IS TOO SHARP A HALL OF FAMER?
What’s up Doug,
I heard you mention Mark Johnson as an all time great numerous times (including the last monday’s mailbag). frankly, i don’t get all the praise the guy gets from the boxing media. is it because he’s the only flyweight who fought on American TV?
It’s weird that he got inducted in his first year of eligibility, while other smaller fighters with better resumes were / still ignored (Masamori Tokuyama, Yoko Gushiken, Myung-Woo Yuh, Hilario Zapata… )
Let’s break down his career:
IBF flyweight title (1996 -1999):
- won a vacant belt
- never had a unification fight
- never faced one single world champion at 112, neither former nor future
- never fought the 112 lineal champions of that period (Arbachakov, Sasakul, Pacquiao)
- most his opponents (ALL of them?) were IBF mandatory challengers
One more thing, he never fought outside of the U.S., a country that produced only 3 flyweight beltholders in the last 50 years. Also, barely fought any notable East /Southeast Asian fighters, the region with the highest number of flyweight titlists / contenders. in other words, he was playing in the minor leagues as far as the 112 division is concerned.
IBF super flyweight champion (1999-2000)
- again, won a vacant belt
- defended it against a fringe contender who never held a title
He then went on to lose twice to the first world champion he ever faced, Rafael Marquez.
WBO super flyweight champion (2003- 2004)
- beat a green Fernando Montiel in a close fight for the-then lightly regarded WBO belt, his best win
- defended this belt against two guys who never / would never held a title in their career.
- brutally knocked out in his last two fights against two world champions, ivan hernandez and jhonny gonzalez.
When it’s all said and done, this HOF fighter fought 4 world champions. His record against them? 1-4, and that one win was a close fight that could’ve easily been a draw.
So the question is: Do you think Mark Johnson is HOF worthy? And if you think so, what part of his career reinforces this? – Ulverup
Three things I’ve got to get off my chest before I defend “Too Sharp.”
1) I don’t think Johnson’s HOF worthy, I know he is.
2) I didn’t say he was an “all-time great” in Monday’s mailbag (and I never have). I stated (as I have many times before) that he is “the best all-around boxer I’ve ever seen fight live.”
3) Your account/analysis of Johnson’s world title accomplishments is biased, incomplete and inaccurate.
Before I get into details, let me state for the record that I absolutely agree that much of the praise Johnson received and continues to receive from boxing writers and his first-ballot hall of fame induction is due, in part, by the fact that he is an American who fought on U.S. television. Had he been some guy from Thailand or Japan and had never fought in the States or on U.S. TV, I don’t think many American boxing writers would talk so highly of him and I KNOW he would not have every graced any pound-for-pounds lists (he was as high as No. 3 in THE RING’s mythical rankings at one time) or gotten into the IBHOF the first time his name was on the ballot.
However, Johnson is worthy. I saw him fight for the first time a little over 20 years ago on the old Prime basic cable network, which used to show Forum Boxing shows from the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif. (This was a few months before I moved to the Los Angeles area, where I would watch “Too Sharp” fight many times live in Inglewood and at The Pond in Anaheim, Calif., as a fan over the next few years.) He was facing a rugged but skilled Mexican contender named Alberto Jimenez and I was blown away by his ability to box and fight his determined opponent throughout 12 competitive, fast-paced rounds.
Johnson narrowly outpointed “Raton” Jimenez, a former title challenger who should have won the WBC title from Muanchai Kittikasem prior to facing Johnson, but he faced the Thai legend in Thailand. Four fights after fighting Johnson, Jimenez traveled to South Africa where he beat local hero “Baby” Jake Matlala for the WBO flyweight title. He made five defenses of that title against top-flight contenders around the world.
I noticed you didn’t include Jimenez in your “world champion” count for Johnson. You shouldn’t have overlooked “Raton,” one of the better world titleholders from Mexico in recent decades.
Johnson became a mainstay at the Forum after beating Jimenez. He was sort of like a 112-pound version of Roger Mayweather, the brotha that Mexican fans paid to see lose. He wasn’t facing world-beaters in ’93, ’94 and’95, but he was fighting tough S.O.B’s who were hell bent on knocking him out, and he beat them in a manner that Mexican fans respected. He didn’t run and he often broke them down to stoppage victories while putting on a dazzling display of boxing, footwork, combination punching and savvy defense.
In ’96, he finally got a shot a major title, the vacant IBF belt, which he won by icing Francisco Tejedor in one round. This is the same Colombian who gave Danny Romero fits in a 12-round decision loss. Tejedor lost the IBF title to Romero, whose management never wanted him to face Johnson and who vacated the title that Too Sharp won.
I noticed you didn’t include Tejedor in your “world champion” count for Johnson, who defended the IBF belt seven times, including a decision over top-contender Alejandro Montiel (a near shutout) and stoppages of Raul Juarez and Arthur “Flash” Johnson.
The Johnson victory was especially impressive because Flash was a 1988 Olympian who was among the most decorated U.S. amateurs of the ‘80s. The St. Louis native was a top pro talent in the 1990s and should have won a title prior to facing Johnson, but he dropped close nods to then-unbeaten 115-pound beltholder Johnny Tapia in Tapia’s hometown and to Pichit Sithbanprachan in the Thai flyweight titleholder’s native Thailand (it was his ninth pro bout). Speaking of Tapia, his management never wanted him to get into the ring with Too Sharp.
Flash, who went 12 rounds with a prime Tim Austin at bantamweight, was never close to being hurt in those other title shots, but Too Sharp blasted him in the first round like he was a journeyman.
In ’99, Johnson stepped up to the 115-pound division and outclassed Thai badass Ratanachai Sor Vorapin for the vacant IBF strap. So Vorapin, one of the few Thai heroes willing to travel outside of Thailand, went on to win the WBO bantamweight title.
I noticed you didn’t include Sor Vorapin in your “world champion” count for Johnson. You also forgot about him when you claimed that Too Sharp “barely fought any notable East /Southeast Asian fighters.”
Now, Johnson didn’t fight any other fighters from that region of the world, but at that time the best Asian (or Asia-based) flyweights seldom left their home countries.
Johnson wanted to unify the 112-pound titles and he talked about it all the time. But the other beltholders around when he finally got his hands on the IBF belt – Yuri Arbachakov (the Japan-based Russian who held the WBC strap) and Saen Sow Ploenchit and Jose Bonilla (the WBA beltholders from Thailand and Venezuela) – weren’t interested in traveling to America.
Those guys were excellent titleholders. I don’t think they were afraid of Johnson, but if they were going to leave their home countries, they were traveling to Japan, not the U.S. The money simply wasn’t there for any flyweight unification bouts to happen in the U.S. American networks weren’t going to shell out the money for that to happen. And Johnson’s promoters – Forum Boxing, and later Don King – weren’t interested in taking him overseas.
The lineal champs you mentioned – Arbachakov, Sasakul and Pacquiao – were all badasses. But nobody in the U.S. (aside from sicko hardcore fans like myself) gave a rat’s ass about them.
So Too Sharp didn’t get the opportunity to prove himself against those Asia-based champs. Who knows what would have happened? I think they would have been awesome fights and I think Johnson had the ability to beat them all. But I could also see him losing to one or two of those guys (especially Arbachakov and Saskul; Manny was pretty raw in those days). We’ll never know.
However, we do know how he fared against the best from Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. He kicked ass and put he put on boxing clinics.
Don’t dismiss the victory over Fernando Montiel (the fight that clinched his hall of fame worthiness in my eyes). Montiel was young, but he wasn’t “green.” He had already held the WBO title at 112 pounds (won it from a well-schooled vet, Chino Garcia) and he was unbeaten in 28 bouts (27-0-1). (By the way, the WBO was “lightly regarded” in the late ‘80s and the early ‘90s – but it was considered a major sanctioning organization by the 2000s when Montiel and Johnson fought.)
The so-called “fringe contender” he defended the WBO 115-pound title against was Jorge Lacierva, who beat then-undefeated (23-0) former 108-pound titleholder Mauricio Pastrana right after losing a technical decision to Too Sharp. Lacierva was a legit contender at 118, 122 and even 126 pounds for years after losing to Johnson. Nobody’s had an easy fight with that guy.
And nobody ever had an easy fight with Johnson. His first bout with Marquez was a 10-round war, which he would have won if he hadn’t been unfairly docked two points for holding. (In fact, he did win the fight initially, but they did a “Texas recount” with the scorecards after announcing him the winner and then changed the verdict an hour after the bout.)
Yes, he lost by knockout to Marquez in the rematch and he was stopped by Hernandez and Gonzalez. Too Sharp was not a bantamweight and those were very big, very talented 118 pounders. Those losses do not taint his legacy in my eyes.
If those losses lessen his accomplishments in your eyes, so be it. But please do a little more research on the man before you try to build a case against his hall of fame worthiness. I know he doesn’t have a lot of fights on YouTube but try to find some CDs of the bouts I mentioned (vs. Jimenez, Juarez, Sor Vorapin, and Alejandro Montiel). Take a closer look at the accomplishments of the fighters he beat.
The arguments you presented to me makes it look like you don’t know as much as you want people to think you know or you just want to discredit Johnson.
KHAN VS. ALEXANDER, BRONER
Happy Friday Doug!
Looks like the Amir Khan camp is insisting that Devon Alexander is refusing the fight. Personally, I don’t see why Devon is holding back: this should be a very winnable fight with a name fighter.
If the Alexander fight falls through, how about putting in “Mr. Annoying,” Adrien Broner in there. November is three months away and they have all the time in the world for negotiations.
After seeing Broner struggle with Paul Malianaggi, I could see Khan possibly winning (if he sticks to the gameplan). I wouldn’t be surprised if Broner ices him, but if it goes to decision, I say Khan pulls it off. And if not Khan, let’s see Broner in there with Alexander. That I’d watch simply to see who the better boxer is since a knockout is out of the question. Your thoughts? – Chip, New Jersey
Broner-Alexander doesn’t interest me. The boxers and their coaches are too close. That would be a gentleman’s sparring session IMO.
Broner-Khan, however, does interest me. I’d like to see how Broner deals with a taller, rangier boxer, who has faster hands than he does and is also mobile when he wants/needs to be.
I think would be a speed chess match, but one that could end at any moment because of Broner’s power and Khan’s shaky whiskers. However, I also think Khan can hurt Broner (especially to the body).
Having said that, I don’t want to see Khan get a shot at Broner before Marcos Maidana does. Maidana’s won two fights (vs. Jesus Soto Karass and Josesito Lopez) that were supposed to move him to the top spot in the WBA’s ratings. He deserves a shot at Mr. Annoying before Khan, who has defeated an untested prospect and then went life and death with a faded veteran in his last two bouts.
As for Alexander-Khan, I wasn’t that into this matchup when it was first proposed and now that the negotiations have dragged on for what seems like months, I just don’t give damn about it. I’ve lost interest.
You have been my favorite boxing scribe since your HoB days, and over the years I have written to you a couple of times. However, due to the addition of 2 new branches to our family tree I haven’t had energy or time to write to you since prior to the Super-Six Tournament.
Anyhow, I have some boxing related questions on my mind and I would like to know your take on the following:
Gatti (2003-4) vs. Antonio Diaz (1999) @ 140
Ezzard Charles vs. Roy Jones Jr. (2000-2) @ 175
Michael Spinks vs. Roy Jones Jr. (2000-2) @ 175
Andre Ward vs. Roy Jones Jr. (1995-96) @ 168
Ray Robinson vs. Roy Jones Jr. (1993-4) @ 160
Ray Leonard (1987) vs. Roy Jones Jr. (1993-4) @ 160
A prime Marvin Hagler vs. Roy Jones Jr. (1993-4) @ 160
Rocky Marciano vs. Roy Jones Jr. (2003) @ 200
(I am BTW not a RJ nut-hugger)
Ali (1966-67) vs. a prime Larry Holmes
de Niro’s “Raging Bull” vs. Stallone’s “Rocky”
Will any of the following make it into the Hall of Fame:
Saman Sor Jaturong
Prince Naseem Hamed
…and finally a very long-shot: Samson Dutch Boy Gym
Respectfully. – Lars N. Knudsen
Oh man, you rule! You brought up Samson Dutch Boy Gym (AKA Elite Gym, 3-K Battery, Kratingdaeng Gym, Toyota-Thailand). You win a “Dougie Award” for bringing that dude up.
Two things I want you to know about Samson Dutch Boy Gym:
1) I saw him fight live (as a fan, not media) in 1996 at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
2) Apart from retiring undefeated (43-0), winning the coveted (not really) WBF (World Boxing Federation) 115-pound title in his fourth pro bout and making 38 freaking defenses of it, the Thai legend actually fought some good fighters – including future titleholders Hugo Soto and Cruz Carbajal, and legit contenders Genaro Garcia and Alexander Makhmutov.
Unfortunately, this poor man’s Khaosai Galaxy will never get into the hall of fame because he never held a major world title. Too bad, because, like Galaxy (who I met at the 1999 World Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony – yes, I’m bragging now), SDBG was an aggressive southpaw junior bantamweight with underrated technique and ring-cutting ability.
As far as the other hall-of-fame hopefuls you brought up, I think Hamed and Eubank will eventually make it into the IBHOF. They were very accomplished and extremely popular in the UK. (Naz’s popularity crossed over into the U.S., which is amazing given that he was featherweight of Arab descent and a loud-and-proud Muslim to boot!)
I think Wright, Sor Jaturong and Sahaprom are worthy. I’ll vote for them, but I don’t know if enough of my current peers agree with me. I think Wright will eventually get into the Hall, because he beat two future first-ballot HOFers (Shane Mosley and Felix Trinidad) and fought numerous bouts on U.S. TV, but it will take a few years. I’m not so sure about the two Thai guys. Sor Jaturong has a better shot than Shaprom because he beat a current HOFer (Humberto Gonzalez in THE RING’s Fight of the Year for 1995 – and I must brag once again, because I was at that fight – God Bless Forum Boxing!) and then made 10 defenses of the WBC 108-pound title (against solid contenders from Mexico, Japan and the Philippines).
Sadly, I don’t think Kalule (who is known more for his losses than his victories – which include a decision over Sumbu Kalambay) and Quartey (who is also known more for his losses than his victories) will ever be seriously considered for the HOF.
Onto your Mythical Match-Ups:
Gatti (2003-4) vs. Antonio Diaz (1999) @ 140 – You have earned your official mythical matchmaking license with this fictional fight. Thanks for remembering Diaz, one of the first world-class fighters I covered. I was ringside for his exciting stoppages of Alberto Cortez and Ivan Robinson, his TKO losses to Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito, as well as his hometown decisions over Cory Spinks and Omar Weiss. “Tono” is very underrated when it comes to action fighters, but Good Lord, the Coachella, Calif. contender was in some wars. His 12th-round TKO over Hector Quiroz in 1998 was as good as it gets. His hard-fought 10-round decision over Micky Ward is a forgotten gem. Maybe it’s my West Coast bias, but I think Diaz was too big and badass for Thunder’s super heart to overcome. I like Tono by thrilling decision.
Ezzard Charles vs. Roy Jones Jr. (2000-2) @ 175 – Charles by late TKO.
Michael Spinks vs. Roy Jones Jr. (2000-2) @ 175 – Spinks by decision.
Andre Ward vs. Roy Jones Jr. (1995-96) @ 168 – Jones by decision.
Ray Robinson vs. Roy Jones Jr. (1993-4) @ 160 – Robinson by mid- or late-rounds KO.
Ray Leonard (1987) vs. Roy Jones Jr. (1993-4) @ 160 – Jones by decision (RJJ was just too big, quick, mobile and skittish for Sugar Ray to outbox or overwhelm)
A prime Marvin Hagler vs. Roy Jones Jr. (1993-4) @ 160 – Hagler by competitive decision. (See RJJ’s fights with B-Hop and Jorge Castro for examples of how he backed away from well-schooled aggressive fighters with iron chins.)
Rocky Marciano vs. Roy Jones Jr. (2003) @ 200 – Marciano by late TKO. Jones’ prowess at heavyweight was a bit of a mirage. Ruiz, a plodder with self doubts, was tailor made for him. And I said and wrote this – along with many other knowledgeable boxing writers, such as Johnny Whitehead, 10 years ago – BEFORE they fought. I think Rocky’s pressure, ability to cut the ring off and solid chin would enable him to pin Jones along the ropes or in a corner and gradually break him down.
Ali (1966-67) vs. a prime Larry Holmes – Ali by close decision.
de Niro’s “Raging Bull” vs. Stallone’s “Rocky” – LaMotta outclasses Balboa just like De Niro would out-act Stallone.
CALLIN’ YOU OUT ON VALERO
WHOA, WHOA, WHOA! Not so fast my ponytailed friend. I let a few weeks go by, thinking somebody would call you out on this but shockingly they didn’t. Your response in the mailbag http://ringtv.craveonline.com/blog/179775-dougies-friday-mailbag pretty much says that Edwin Valero would’ve been unbeatable at 140 and under.
I’M CALLING YOU OUT FISCH!
So you believe this guy would stop Matthysse? And would have only one loss, (to Pacquiao), and then you qualify that with “if the fight took place above 140”? Come on man. Next thing you’ll tell me is that he’d destroy Whitaker, J.C. Chavez, Ray Leonard, and Joe Gans. Unless, of course, they chose to fight him above 140. But anything below that he’ll win.
Come on dude. All Valero would’ve been is another hard punching Venezuelan, no better than Miguel Acosta, which is nothing to sneeze at. But PUHLEASE
Let’s stop with these fantasies about 34-1 and nobody going the distance. Danny Garcia, Jab Judah, Rios, Lundy, Broner, Khan, Alexander, Guererro are all world class guys. Sorry dude, but ain’t no DeMarco’s or Pitalua’s on this list (though Lundy’s name is shaky depending on what night they hypothetically fought).
Let’s get real man. Valero was cool, but fighting cab drivers in Venezuela and laid off trash men once you hit Cali isn’t going to bring back memories of Benny Leonard and Roberto Duran. Valero would be at loss #5 at least by now… all via the KO! And you KNOW it too. That’s what kills me. – Rahmon in Cali.
I know what I know, and it’s based on a lot more than you’ve seen or heard of Valero, Rahmon. I’ll state it again: Nobody would have defeated Edwin Valero at 130, 135 or 140 pounds. All the dudes you mentioned would have been KTFO. There are no doubts in my mind about that.
I respect your opinion and I respect anyone’s choice to believe that I’m biased or full of s__t; especially regarding Valero, because he did not fulfill his considerable potential.
However, if you’re really curious about how formidable Valero was or about his potential – and you’re not just some loud-mouth fan who has no intentions of backing his opinions up – I invite you (and all the other Valero doubters) to contact the boxing veterans who trained him and/or managed him or trained fighters who worked out with him. Talk to the fighters who fought him or sparred with him.
Please don’t take my word for anything. Talk to the trainers: Joe Hernandez, Ken Adams, Robert Alcazar, Rudy Hernandez, Robert Garcia and Henry Ramirez. Talk to Teiken Promotions boss and hall-of-fame promoter Akihiko Honda. Talk to promoter and matchmaker Ray Alcorta. Talk to the titleholders who fought him: Antonio DeMarco and Vicente Mosquera. Talk to the fighters who sparred with him: Juan Lazcano, Jesus Soto Karass, Urbano Antillon, Jose Armando Santa Cruz and Josesito Lopez.
Talk to these people. Some of them have been in boxing for 50-plus years. None of them are bulls__ters, Ramon. These men are as real as it gets and they have no reason to lie to you. Talk to them and then get back to me.
BRING ON THE ‘DOUGIES’
I love the idea that you and your Facebook buddies came up with regarding “The Dougies”. I been thinking the same thing myself! Kind of like Jim Bagg with his Baggie awards! Only the Baggie came in the form of a tin-foiled pissie-cup used and signed by James Toney.
The Dougie will be a little Doug Fischer doll with a cord. You pull the cord and the doll will talk like the real thing as he says trademark Dougie comments like “I’m a hater!”, “Nuthugger!” and “You’re such a cretin!”
Sounds silly I know, but no more than a gold-plated statue of a naked bald guy named “Oscar”
So here are the frontrunners of this year’s Dougies:
Best Quote: From Fleetwood’s “Gangstuhs Of The Year” column. “Provodnikov had Bradley staggering around like a dimestore version of Jab Judah after finding out that walking in a straight line towards Kosta Tyzyu was akin to leaving your nuts out on a chopping block!” Hilarious! Take a bow, Fleet!
Best Column: “Blood And Guts” by Todd The Terminator. Love or hate this guy you can’t help but notice the dude’s fired-up passion. Especially with this one E-mail. The best part? Triple T’s rundown of Lara-Angulo in which he praises Lara for having a pair of balls “bigger than the ass-shaped sink-hole in Butterbean’s sofa” and then rips Angulo for “leaving his face wide open and available like some cheap-ass hooker!” Classic T! This dude and Fleetwood should have their own mailbags. Or work together as commentators!
Best Question: Coming from some fan who was “confused in England” The question? “Why is The Ring recognizing Adonis Stevenson as the World Light-Heavyweight Champion?” Right after Stevenson knocked out defending Ring champ Chad Dawson in two rounds!
Longest E-Mail: The “Frauds” letter from Hugo. Happy Hugo might need PEDs to watch fights but the rest of us needed those juice-pills along with a case of red-bull drinks just to read this guy’s long-winded e-mail!
Best nickname: “Thurmanator.” There! You said you wanted full credit for this nickname. You got it! And regardless of what happens the rest of the year your Dougie is all guaranteed! Hey, you even get further credit for Bradley’s nickname, “Thunderdome” and your catchy little moniker for Lucas Matthysse. (“The Argentine War Machine”)
Okay Dougie. That’s how the stats are measuring so far! Don’t forget to fix your little pony-tail all nice and polish up your shades for The Dougies! – Captain Ron
You’re such a f___in’ cretin.
But you’ve almost sold me on the idea of staging the first annual Dougie Awards ceremony. We could hold it at the main lounge at Hollywood Park Casino in the City of Champions — Inglewood, Calif. I wonder how much it would cost to fly in Fleetwood and Triple T to co-host the show? Would Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” be interested in televising it (right after Childrens Hospital and before NTSF:SD:SUV in the 3:45-4:00 a.m. slot)?
I’ll look into it while I prepare my speech for Best Nickname (by the way, “Thunderdome” isn’t mine).
Photos / THE RING, George BRidges-AFP, Stan Honda-AFP
Emails Dougie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer