Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Monday mailbag

DAMN!

Hey Dougie,
First of all: Daaaaaammmnnnn… Who would have thought Abner Mares would get KTFO like that? Props to him for even getting up and fighting back after that first hook, but he really should have held and/or ran. The guy has balls though, and he was able to fight back for a full ten seconds before getting put down again. Where does he go from here? In an ideal world I’d like to see him fight Donaire, but that isn’t going to happen…

Secondly, what do you think of Leo Santa Cruz? I think his volume punching, body attack, and underrated boxing ability will take him far in the sport… However, I think he should stick around at 122 for a while and perhaps fight one of the UK’s up-and-comers, Scott Quigg or Carl Frampton. A Rigondeaux fight won’t happen, but Santa Cruz is nowhere ready anyways. How would these 122lb-ers fare against a 122lb Morales?

Also, what do you think of this whole win-a-belt-in-a-weight-class-then-move-up-straight-away business? I think winning a belt doesn’t make you a legit champ unless you can defend it a few times, and against credible opposition.

Lastly, what the hell happened to Gary Russell Jr. and Jessie Vargas? These guys were being built up by HBO (who else?) as the future of boxing. Where did they disappear to?  Peace. – Bilal

Vargas and Russell haven’t disappeared. Vargas outpointed fellow unbeaten prospect Wale Omotoso in March (on HBO) and Russell shutout journeyman Juan Ruiz earlier this month (thankfully off-TV). However, their careers have definitely stagnated, which is too bad. I think highly of both Fight Night Club grads and honestly figured both were precocious enough to have fought for major titles by now.

Maybe their big break is right around the corner. Last I heard, Vargas is scheduled to appear on the Tim Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez undercard on Oct. 12. No opponent has been announced yet. My guess is that the Las Vegas resident will not be facing a world beater, but I’m hoping that Top Rank rolls the dice with him in 2014. Vargas is 24 years old and 22-0. He’s fought six consecutive 10-round bouts against solid opposition. I think he’s ready for a bona-fide top-10 welterweight contender. He’s not a big enough name for the likes of Bradley, Marquez, or even Rios and Provonikov; but maybe a fight can be made with Luis Carlos Abregu. That hardnosed S.O.B. will let us know if he has the goods. The winner of Brook-Senchenko would also be real test for him.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer mentioned Russell as a potential opponent for Gonzalez at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. I’m all for that fight. No, Russell hasn’t defeated anyone of note but he’s 25, 23-0, and with his blend of talent, technique and amateur experience, he should be able to make the considerable leap up in class.

What do I think of think of “this whole win-a-belt-in-a-weight-class-then-move-up-straight-away business?” Like you, I don’t care much for it. I like new titleholders to establish their credentials in a particular weight class before moving on.

What do I think of Santa Cruz? I think he’s a little monster. He should change his nickname from “Terremoto” to “Terror.” I really thought he’d have to fight his ass off to beat Terrazas, and I thought that fight would at least go past the seventh round. However, he heaped 12 rounds of punishment on that poor veteran in less than nine minutes.

You’re correct that he’s got some craft to go with his pressure and volume punching, especially when in close. However, he’s in a deep division, and I think the British duo of Frampton and Quigg can give him a run for his money. Fellow beltholder Kiko Martinez would make for a hell of a scrap, and I wouldn’t strongly favor Santa Cruz to beat the Spanish veteran. I’d favor the champ, Rigondeaux, to outclass Santa Cruz, but I wouldn’t count the young man out.

I think the 122-pound version of “El Terrible” would defeat all of the top junior featherweights of today in competitive, hard-fought bouts.

I was absolutely shocked by Gonzalez’s first-round stoppage victory. I’m still a little numb from the turn of events because I really thought Mares was at his peak as a boxer and athlete at 126 pounds. Don’t get me wrong, I knew Gonzlaez was dangerous. I’ve covered the Mexico City boxer-puncher for almost 10 years. I was ringside for his first title victory against Ratanchai Sor Vorapin in Tucson, Arizona in 2005. He’s normally I guy I root for, and I’m always happy when underdogs win, but Mares is one of the Southern California-based fighters I couldn’t help but like on a personal level. I’ve always respected his attitude, work ethic, his willingness to challenge himself, and the grit he shows in the ring. On top of all that, he’s a nice guy. So I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little crushed, emotionally, by the manner in which he was defeated.

I was convinced this was Abner’s time, just like it was Jhonny’s time when he faced the aging Thai legend eight years ago.

Where does Mares go from here? Good question. Because the fight was stopped at the appropriate time (after the second knockdown in the first round – as opposed to gambling with his health and allowing him to get up and maybe survive the opening round only to take more punishment for another few rounds), I think following a deserved rest, the best and boldest move for Mares is to go into an immediate rematch.

I don’t know if he’ll do that but I do know that whatever course he and his team decide to take, we’ll see him regain a major world title and compete once more with the best. He’s got too much character not to succeed.

RINGTV.COM CURSE

What’s up Dougie,

I was at the StubHub Center on Saturday night and was as stunned as everybody else in the venue. Wow! I think Ringtv.com’s “Ask the Experts” is a curse. LOL. Almost all of them had Mares winning by KO, and he lost. I think most of them had Brandon Rios beating Mike Alvarado in the rematch as well, and I know there has been other near unanimous predictions that ended up being upsets. Anyway, I gave Jhonny Gonzalez a puncher’s chance and that’s all he needed. Do you think Mares got too confident? I noticed Gonzalez was holding back with the right and when he threw it, he landed it flush. I thought Abner would adjust, but he got caught with a wicked left by one of the biggest punchers in the sport. It’s a slight setback for Abner, who has fought nothing but badasses for the last two-plus years. He deserves a break, and a Leo Santa Cruz-Jhonny Gonzalez matchup is music to my ears! What say you, Mr. Fisher? – Miguel, LBC

Gonzalez vs. Santa Cruz? I’ll buy tickets to that one if I can’t get a media credential. LOL. Hell, I’d buy tickets to Santa Cruz vs. Joseph Agbeko, Martinez, Frampton, Quigg, and, of course, Mares.

I also thought Abner would adjust. That’s what he does! But it’s hard to adjust when your brains are scrambled by a world-class puncher with the accuracy and technique of Jhonny Gonzalez. Everyone keeps saying that Mares should have held after the first knockdown. I think he was too far gone to think about strategy or survival tactics. He got up with sheer heart and conditioning and he acted on instinct. And Abner’s instinct is to fight, not hold. I’m not mad at him for that.

I don’t Mares was overconfident or that he overlooked Gonzalez, but I don’t think he had same intensity – the “Eye of the Tiger,” if you will – that he had going into his bantamweight title bouts or the Anselmo Moreno fight. I think he will have that intensity going into a rematch with Gonzalez, or whoever he fights next.

Getting KTFO either makes a fighter mentally stronger and smarter in the ring (see heavyweight champs Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko for examples of that) or it forever destroys his confidence (see heavyweight disappointments Michael Grant and Andrew Golota).  

I think Mares is a champ at heart and he’ll bounce back the way Lewis, Klitschko, Gonzalez (who has been knocked out three times) and so many others have.

As for the RingTV.com “Ask the Experts” curse, what can I say? This is why they fight the fights. If the so-called experts were always right about outcomes, promoters wouldn’t have bothered to make half the fights that have delivered so much action and drama over the years.

Three boxing truths came to mind in those crazy seconds Mares’ first and second knockdowns:

1) Never count out a puncher

2) even faded former champs usually have one great effort left in them

3) Styles make fights – Gonzalez lost to Daniel Ponce de Leon, who was knocked out by Mares, but that didn’t mean Jhonny couldn’t put the smash down on Abner.

Oh yeah, another truth popped into my head (and probably yours too) shortly after Gonzalez was announced the winner: Boxing is the greatest sport.

MARES DOWN BUT HE’LL BE BACK

Dougie,

WOW! That is all I said when I saw Mares down looking bad.

Jhonny Gonzalez has always shown he has the goods. I remember when I started looking him up during the old Boxeo de Oro series on HBO Latino about 8-9 years ago. I have always liked watching him. That being said, I did not see this one coming. I hate going on the comments section of boxing websites and seeing people dissing Mares for being overrated or his knockout somehow making Donaire a beast (even though Donaire was not fighting).

All I got to say is this: Mares is a warrior. Does he get dirty? Yes. Does he win fights? Absolutely. Is he ever in a boring fight? Nope! In the last few years, the kid has gone through a gauntlet of the best boxers out there.

Like Gonzalez said: Mares is a true champ and he will be back. I think with the round close to ending, the ref should have let Abner keep going. You think that was a good stoppage?

Where do you see Mares going from this knockout? At least it was a quick one and he did not take a beating. He seemed pretty lucid during the post-fight interview… always a good sign.

Santa Cruz! Holy Mexican maulers! This kid is exciting. He is definitely on the map now. I am sure the day will come when he gets caught but until then I will watch his fights religiously ‘cause he brings it.

I don’t care who he fights next… just give the kid some gloves and an opponent.

Which way should he be headed for his next few fights?

You see that All Access for Canelo-Mayweather? Pretty decent show. I am glad Canelo sees what many people see. Floyd has been fighting the fights everyone knew he would win and he wants to be “The One!” It is hard to bet against Floyd but Canelo might give him a good scare. I wish I could write a thank you letter to the director of All Access for showing Leonard Ellerbe panicking when Mickey Bey got knocked out a few weeks ago. Seeing him jumping and screaming a few weeks ago during the fight made my weekend but watching that scene being replayed up close with an audio stream… well, it made me laugh even harder than I laughed during the actual fight.

Keep up the good work brother! – Hector

I was a little bit disappointed that All Access has taken the format of HBO’s over-produced 24/7 rather than the more-documentary style of the Fight Camp 360 series Showtime developed for the Super Six tournament, however, the show did hold my interest and scenes like the Floyd and Ellerbe witnessing one of the top Mayweather Promotions fighters (Mickey Bey) get stopped in the final round of a fight he was winning is one of the reasons. Not that I have anything against Bey, Ellerbe or Mayweather Promotions; it’s just so many of these Countdown-type shows involving Mayweather merely chronicle The Money Team’s high life. They often ignore or gloss over the lows, so it was interesting to see them have to deal with a defeat.

It was also endearing to see Mayweather congratulate John Molina, who then told Floyd that he was one of his favorite fighters.

I think the show will get better once it moves to the coverage of their respective camps. I’ve heard good things about both, so I have high hopes for one of boxing’s so-called “super Fights” actually living up to the hype they way they used to back in the 1980s (Leonard-Hearns I and II, Hagler-Hearns, Hagler-Leonard).

I’m saying it right now. I’m feelin’ Canelo in this one. I think he can do more than give Mayweather a “scare.”

Santa Cruz is stronger and sharper at 122 pounds than he was at 118, which means he’s a threat to any junior featherweight. We still haven’t seen him in with a world-class finesse boxer like Anselmo Moreno or an elite counter puncher/ring general like Guillermo Rigondeaux, so I won’t call the kid “The Truth” just yet.

I will, however, say he’s must-see TV. Which way should he be headed? Directly toward the best of the 122-pound division.

Where do I see Mares going from his knockout? I think he can get right back on the saddle and fight Gonzalez in a rematch or face another top 126 pounder. The reason, as you stated, is because he didn’t take too much punishment in the knockout loss. And that fact tells me that referee Jack Reiss did the right thing by calling it off after the second knockdown.

Don’t forget: after the first knockdown, Reiss gave Mares ample time to prove that he was OK to continue (perhaps too much time to unfairly recuperate). Mares was willing, as usual, but his legs were not even 75 percent under him. The way his body hit the canvas after the second knockdown and the glazed over look in his eyes let Reiss know that the fight was over.

I’m not gonna second guess Reiss’s call like some Twitter pundits have done. He may have saved Mares’ career. He should be commended. And fans who s__t on Mares after this loss aren’t fans in my opinion. It’s as simple as that.

True fans are giving props to Gonzalez, who, as you mentioned, has been around for a long time. I was ringside in the Grand Olympic Auditorium when stopped then-undefeated Roger “Speedy” Gonzalez (his first major victory in the U.S., televised on HBO Latino) in 2004. I was there when he won his bantamweight title, when he knocked out an aging “Too Sharp” Johnson at the Mandalay Bay in Vegas, when he and Fernando Montiel stunk it out at StubHub (Home Depot) Center, and when he dropped Israel Vazquez twice before getting stopped late in an underappreciated classic. I was in Arco Arena when he was stopped by a single body shot from Gerry Penalosa.

So I’ve witnessed Jhonny’s highs and lows. Believe me, I was happy for him on Saturday even though I was gutted over Mares’ loss.

However, guys like Gonzalez are proof that real fighters persevere through adversity. Jhonny’s been through more trials and tribulations than most but he’s on top of the world right now. If he can do it, so can Mares.

JHONNY BE GOOD

Dougie,

Two great fights.  Leo Santa Cruz is the goods. He reminds me of a more skilled Margarito. Can’t wait for his next fight. I’d love to see him in there with Joseph Agbeko. That would be a fun fight and definitely a step up for Santa Cruz. Who wins and who would you like to see Santa Cruz fight next?

Abner Mares seems like a good kid and I’m sure he’ll be champion again. I’ve felt in past fights he can be dirty, but always got the job done. I actually think this loss will be good for him because whatever cockiness he had just flew out the window. I think he seems like he has a great head on his shoulders and will grow from this.

I’m sure many will write him off and say he’s a hype job, but I don’t thinks so. He got caught from a very and always in my opinion underrated good fighter. I feel like Jhonny has been around forever. Man I remember when he beat Too Sharp. He’s been a champion, but never an A fighter as far as networks and promoters are concerned. He truly had to always fight his way into the picture. Never hyped, no easy road just a hard working fighter. When he fought Vasquez, if I remember correctly, he knocked Israel down and was dominating the fight the first half until he started to break down. I remember thinking that he was going to win, but then the warrior Vasquez came back. Jhonny has been in wars and always seems to come back. I’m happy for him and hope he can continue to get opportunities and prove his craft. If we don’t see a rematch, I’d like to see him take on Chris John, De Leon rematch or Salido. Mikey Garcia doesn’t fall into the fold being with Top Rank so not sure besides the above who else there is. Where do you think both go from here?

I think Danny Garcia is getting KO’d early. Lucas Mathysse is no joke and I’m going with my gut. I’m also going with Canelo. I have a funny feeling he hurts Floyd. Maybe it’s wishful thinking. I respect Floyd as a fighter and actually met him in Vegas a few months before his fight with Gatti and was surprised because he was nice and outgoing. Even though I had that experience in meeting him, I can’t stand how he portrays himself and don’t respect the path he took. He’s had some good fights, but he’s taken the path of least resistance compared to other great champions. I’ve always felt that he makes it hard to be a fan because he hasn’t always given fans the fights they’ve wanted to see. I don’t care what any of his nut hugger fans say he avoided Casamayor, Freitas, Margarito, Pacquaio, Cotto (at welterweight), Hatton (at junior welterweight) and Kosta. I also think he lost to Castillo in their first fight. Just curious on your thoughts of a prime De La Hoya vs Floyd. I remember thinking when they fought that De La Hoya was competitive and that if he was in his prime he would have clearly won and I think easier than most would think. Not a De La Hoya fan either. What do you think?

What fights are you most excited for and what fights do you think that can be realistically made you want to see? – Michael, NYC

I’m excited about the same fights that most boxing fans are looking forward to over the next two-three months: Mayweather-Canelo, Garcia-Matthysse, Mitchell-Arreola, Alvarado-Provodnikov, Stevenson-Cloud, Haye-Fury, Pacquiao-Rios, and that’s just off the top of my head. If Golovkin-Stevens is made, I’ll be heading back to NYC. If Broner-Maidana is made, I’ll be stoked about that matchup.

This has been a dream year in many ways for hardcore fight fans. It might go down as the Year of the Puncher. Gonzalez certainly added to that with his Upset and KO of the Year candidate on Saturday.

Fights I want to see that can realistically be made (probably in 2014): Garcia-Matthysse winner vs. Broner-Maidana winner. Alvarado-Provodnikov winner vs. Bradley-Marquez winner vs. Pacquiao-Rios winner. And the losers of those bouts fighting each other. How about that?

Prime De La Hoya gives Mayweather fits (obviously, the 2007 version was competitive with him). But that doesn’t mean he would beat Floyd. Even in his prime, De La Hoya had trouble with defensive boxers and he faded in the late rounds. Only certain versions of the prime De La Hoya would beat Mayweather in my opinion: the 140- and 147-pound version trained by Jesus Rivero (1996-97) outpoints Mayweather (in a stinker, I might add) and the 154-pound version trained by Mayweather Sr. (from 2001-02) would outpoint him, and maybe stop him late.

The 135-pound version trained Robert Alcazar would have had a shot at catching and stopping Floyd in the early rounds; same deal with the 147-pound version trained by Emanuel Steward, but if he couldn’t get Mayweather out of there by the middle rounds, Floyd would outpoint him in close fights.

Feel free to add Steve Johnston (at lightweight) to that list of yours. LOL.

Don’t be nervous about picking Canelo. He’s a live dog and he’s a dog that can bite. I was shocked to see Mares KTFO by Gonzalez. I would not be shocked to see Mayweather KTFO by Alvarez. Well, maybe a little bit. LOL.

Gonzalez busted up Vazquez and had the defending 122-pound champ down twice in the first half of their 2006 war. Izzy raged back like the Warrior God he was and heaped an unholy beating on poor Jhonny, dropping him twice and forcing the late trainer Oscar Suarez to step into the ring during the 10th round to save him.

Gonzalez has been in some damn good fights, scored some sick knockouts, sprang some beautiful upsets (the KO of Hozumi Hasegawa in Japan was the pinnacle prior to Saturday’s shocker) and has suffered his share of setbacks (particularly in at 122 pounds where Izzy and Toshi Nishioka stopped him in title bouts).

I’m happy he earned an extension to his long and decorated career. What does he do next? He could welcome Gary Russell Jr. to the world-class level of the sport. He could do rematches with Mares and/or Ponce de Leon. Or, if Rafael Marquez beats Efrain Esquivias and looks solid doing so on Sept. 7, I can the two Mexico City veterans do their version of the seniors tour (hey, I’d watch that fight).

There’s also Santa Cruz, of course. But I’d rather watch Leo try to unify belts with fellow pressure fighter Kiko Martinez or accept the challenge of one of Britian’s contenders, Frampton or Quigg. A showdown with Hasegawa, who is rated by the WBC at 122 pounds, would be fascinating if the Japanese veteran would be willing to come to the States (admittedly, only hardcore purists would be into this one). And I think two-division champ Hugo Cazares would make for a fun voluntary defense.

 

 

Follow Dougie on Twitter @dougiefischer

Around the web