Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Friday Mailbag

DON’T CALL ALVARADO A QUITTER

Hi Doug, 

I just watched the Ruslan Provodnikov-Mike Alvarado fight. That was a fantastic boxing matchup. For those who called Alvarado a quitter following that fight, I will tell them this:

First bring your lazy asses to a boxing gym and start training five times a week for a couple years. Then turn pro. After that become a world champ and defend your belt against a hard hitter for 30 minutes. Then you can call Mike Alvarado a quitter. But you won’t, because at that point, you will know what respect is.

Sad to hear the news about the death of a young man and boxer of 26 years old, Francisco Leal. We should take the time to talk about this tragedy, because we can’t forget what boxing is truly about, a beautiful and brutal art aiming at putting a man down…

Have a good day. – Luigi, Montreal

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Luigi.

I agree with your take on professional boxing. The art of boxing is to hit and not get hit, the goal of every boxer is to win by imposing his or her style on their opponent, but physical punishment – especially head trauma – is the result ever bout a boxer takes part in.

Professional boxing is a sport but it’s not a game.

Boxers are athletes, but they are also warriors – as Provodnikov and Alvarado have proven to be many times during their careers. They are used to spilling blood and they are inclined to take more pain and to dig deeper than normal human beings. They are also very proud and willful individuals and they are not always going to acknowledge when they have had enough – as Alvarado did last Saturday.

That’s why promoters and athletic commissions in every jurisdiction on the planet need to look out for the safety of professional boxers. Some don’t know when to stop, either during a fight or after a severely damaging bout, as was the case with Leal.

 

BOXER SAFETY IN A BRUTAL SPORT

Doug, 

Long time reader, first time writer.

Coming from a traditional Mexican family, boxing has always been big with us. I cheered loudly celebrating Juan Manuel Marquez’s devastating knockout of Pacquiao; spectacular.

Flash forward a month later, and my dad, being a loving/concerned father, was teaching my younger brothers how to box. They were doing some light sparring with family watching, having a laugh. It happened so quickly. My brother caught him with a perfect right hand knocking him out cold, causing him to fall back and bash his head against the floor. I ran towards him as fast as I could. I squeezed his hand, screaming, pleading at him to come back to life… But his lifeless body just stared into nothingness; he wasn’t breathing. I feared the worst. It was the longest, most frightening minutes of my life. It is hard to even write about this. The effects of the punch lingered. He was diagnosed with a spinal cord concussion and was completely paralyzed for a week. Since then, he has made almost a full recovery.

My fiancé and I recently got into an argument as to why a person should support such a brutal sport. I argued that it is an art, a craft that must be mastered in order to wield against an opponent. She made the argument that it is no different than the ancient gladiators of Roman times, who gave their life for entertainment.

We love the thrill of a fight 2,000 years later and human nature has not changed. But, we can change the rules of the game. Why was Tim Bradley not given a dilated pupil flashlight test after his knockdown with Ruslan Provodnikov? The doctor should have known Bradley was concussed and the fight stopped. Why was Alvarado allowed to continue after the second knockdown? Alvarado displayed great courage in getting up; exemplifying the reasons I love boxing. However, his corner or the ref should have stopped the fight in order to save him from further punishment and the shame of quitting himself.

Why was Mexican boxer Leal, R.I.P, killed in his fight this past weekend?

I want to keep following this sport, but the safety of the fighter must be a top priority. I commend Mr. Mayweather and Mr. Bradley for speaking out about drug testing, concussions, and the overall safety of a fighter.

Going back to the Marquez-Pacquiao fight, I feel for Mrs. Pacquiao, who was crying for her fallen husband. We tend to forget that these warriors are someone’s son, father, or husband. While we cheer, they cry. Us fans need to appreciate the level of courage they display. I find it disrespectful when some of the readers claim a fighter is ‘scared’ or a ‘coward’; they are anything but.

Doug, my questions to you is this: What can be done to improve the overall safety of the fighter before, during and after a match? What entities are allowed to stop a fight if a fighter is taking too much punishment? How does the commission support the fighters after their boxing careers are over, with all the pending health issues after their battles in the ring? Sure, the elite make millions, and some of that can be used for their health, but what about the lower end guys living pay check to pay check? There has to be improvements made to avoid these tragedies in the ring.

Sincerely – Concerned boxing fan, E-Lo, San Fernando Valley, CA

Thanks for writing in for the first time, E-Lo, and for sharing that very personal story and your heartfelt concerns.

I agree that improvements in fighter safety and post-career support need to be made in the sport.

Most athletic commissions do not offer any kind of support for boxers after their careers are over. The California State Athletic Commission had a pension plan for pro boxers in the 1980s and early ‘90s. During that time the commission took a percentage of gate receipts and fighter purses to put into a fund that would later be used to help support retired boxers. The money is still available for professional boxers who fought in California between 1981 and ’94. Those eligible for the pension must be at least 50 years old, must have fought at least 10 rounds a year for four years without more than a three-year break, and, they must have had at least a total of 75 scheduled pro rounds without a three-year break.

As far as I know, California is the only state that has any sort of pension fund for boxers. So what about all the other boxers out there?

The World Boxing Council started a pension fund last year with the help of a luxury Swiss watch company that donated $1 million and put on a fund raising event in Las Vegas to kick things off.

If the well being of former fighters is a concern to you, may I suggest looking into the WBC’s pension fund and donating to it (provided it meets your approval).

What entities are allowed to stop a fight if a fighter is taking too much punishment? The ringside physician or the fighter’s corner can usually stop the fight at any time through the referee, who has the ultimate authority to end the bout. Usually, the referee respects the opinion of the doctor or the wishes of the corner. In California, the ringside doctor also has the authority to stop a bout (with or without the ref’s blessing).

What can be done to improve the overall safety of the fighter? Well, the first thing you have to understand is that boxing will never be a “safe” sport. You witnessed for yourself what one clean punch can do to a human being. Our brains were not meant to receive the kind of impact that a punch to the face delivers.

However, knowledgeable officials – particularly the referee – can spare fighters the type of punishment that shortens careers and lives. Veteran referee Robert Byrd (formerly a California official who has been based in Nevada for the past 10-15 years) has never officiated a bout that ended in a ring fatality. He proudly says this ain’t luck; it’s because he knows when a fighter has had enough.

The fighter’s corner should know this, and often they do, but they have a hard time stopping a fight when their fighter is taking a beating because they fear the backlash from the fans and from the fighter himself. That’s why the referee’s role in fighter safety is the most important. His pride and dreams aren’t wrapped up in the fighter’s success, he doesn’t have to worry about being fired by the fighter, and he shouldn’t worry about what the fans think of his decision.

In recent months, California ref Jack Reiss has stopped two high-profile main events in the first round. His decision to do so wasn’t fully accepted by the fighters who were stopped – Abner Mares and Seth Mitchell – or by the fans and media immediately after his actions but it was the right thing to do in both bouts. Mares was clipped and downed hard by a homerun hitter (Jhonny Gonzalez). Reiss gave the defending titleholder ample opportunity to prove that he could continue and Mares tried his best but the veteran challenger dropped him again just before the round was over. Reiss stopped the fight before Mares could even attempt to pick himself back up again. There were only 10 seconds left in the round and Mares wanted to try to get back to his feet. Could have done so had Reiss allowed him to? Yes. Would he have survived the round? Yes. Could he have turned things around? Maybe.

But the key question to be asked is SHOULD he have been allowed to continue? F__K NO. Reiss may have taken a little heat in the immediate aftermath of the bout, when emotions were running high, but Mares lives to fight another day. Same deal with Mitchell, who was repeatedly dropped, rocked and discombobulated by a series of right hands from Chris Arreola. Mitchell was able to get up from each knockdown but wasn’t able to recover or adequately defend himself. He was on his feet when Reiss stopped the fight. He wanted to continue. Could he have? Probably. Could he have gotten out of the first round? Probably. Again, the question is SHOULD he have been allowed to? HELL NO.

Beyond referees who know when to say “when,” fighters’ lives and health can be protected and preserved by commissions being more vigilant about preventing those who have been seriously injured in previous bouts from fighting in their jurisdictions.

Leal shouldn’t have been allowed to fight after the beating he took against Evgeny Gradovich last March in San Antonio. He was hospitalized for days due to the head trauma he received during those brutal 10 rounds with the Russian fighter. He should not have been able to resume his career this year just by returning to Mexico.

The same thing can be said about many fighters who have died from brain injuries sustained in the ring. Former lightweight contender Leavander Johnson should not have fought after being stopped in the 11th round of a grueling fight with Javier Jauregui ten years ago in Los Angeles. He continued his career, and won the vacant IBF title one fight after the Jauregui loss, but he was already damaged (I believe) going into his tragic title defense against Jesus Chavez in 2005.

As a boxing fan who closely follows the sport, I think one way that you can help improve safety is to keep an eye on boxers who take terrible beatings in a bout and voice your concerns to any commission where that fighter is scheduled to fight again. Commissions and promoters should hear concerns from more than just the boxing industry and media. The fans have a voice and they have more influence than they realize.

 

EX-SOVIET CZARS

What’s up Dougie?

My first mailbag, so let me start with a bang!

I’m very impressed with these former Soviet Union punchers, Gennady Golovkin, Sergei Kovalev and Ruslan Provodonikov. How I wish they could be on the same fight card! Imagine this,

Main event: Golovkin against Sergio Martinez for the lineal middleweight supremacy.

Major undercard: Provodonikov against Danny Garcia for the ultimate belts (forget about Danny’s SHO commitment, I love HBO!)

1st undercard: Kovalev against Adonis Stevenson (Again, for the lineal belts!)

Your thoughts? Please. – Jov, Philippines

I’m also impressed by the Dynamic Three. They are a lot of fun to watch, live or on TV.

And though I know that all three of them sharing a card in such high-profile bouts is all but impossible, I’m keeping my fingers crossed the matchups you brought up eventually take place.

Like a lot of hardcore fans, I think my man GGG would unseat Martinez, but one never knows. If Golovkin gets rocked or dropped by hard-cracking Curtis Stevens next Saturday, Martinez could suddenly become the favorite in that potential 160-pound showdown.

The other fights are total toss ups. I’d slightly favor Garcia over Provodnikov and Stevenson over Kovalev, but those opinions could change on a daily basis leading into those fights if they are ever made.

 

PROVO BELONGS AT 140

Hi Dougie,

I like Provo at Jr. Welterweight. True, he did great against Bradley at welter, but I think he’s even more powerful 7 lbs lighter. His short wing span might be a problem against some of the longer welters. Especially, if they can box. For example, Devon Alexander. – Mike Silver

I thought Provo was better suited at 147 pounds going into the Alvarado fight but now I have to agree with you. He’s just as much of a beast at 140, if not more so. I also agree that rangy world-class welterweights who box and move a lot could give him problems.

 

PROVO HAS EARNED IT

Hi Doug,

I pray you and your family are doing well. Provodnikov has earned the right to fight Fraud more than Canelo Alvarez had. He has been more impressive and he really beat Bradley because the ref missed two knockdowns in that fight. He doesn’t need a fan base because the way they hype these things up, he will be known by fight night.

Thank God for him and Alvardao. Those guys came to fight. The people who say Alvardo quit and Alfredo Angulo (against Erislandy Lara) should be put in an insane asylum. Those two guys fought their butts off and gave you everything they had and that is all you can ask of human beings is to give their best and those guys emptied their gas tank. They covered themselves in glory and you have to give them ultimate respect for trying their best after being damaged. A lot of fight fans are ghouls. Do they want to see someone die in the ring?

Hopkins, Fraud and Wladdy need to take notes. I’d rather watch guys like this than those 3 any day. Great fights like this elevate the sport and bring in new fans. Take care. – Blood and Guts from Philly

I agree with your preference in boxing styles and matchups but we can’t fault B-Hop, Mayweather and Klitschko for being the ring generals they are. They’re limiting the punishment they take, they’ve had long future hall of fame careers and they make A LOT of money doing what they do.

I agree 100 percent that the fans who called Alvarado and Angulo “quitters” are nuts.

I don’t agree that Provodnikov has earned a shot at Mayeather but I like your enthusiasm. Keep banging those drums, maybe a real public demand will eventually be created.

 

MONEY DOMINATES PROVO

Provodnikov would never be able to cut off the ring against Mayweather. Move-combo-move-combo-move-combo all night long. & Mayweather wouldn’t take the risk in the first place. – Craig

Duh, and duh again.

 

MANSI-O-MANO

Thanks for pointing out in the Monday mailbag that “I’m not sure if people from Kazakhstan are considered Slavs.” It really depends on the Kazakh, and whether they are of Russian ethnicity or not.  Let’s not forget the Ukrainian Klitchkos were born in Kazakhstan. I don’t know what Golovkin associates with culturally speaking.

But it might be worthwhile to also point out that Ruslan Provodnikov is not Slavic either. I think one of the most interesting aspects of his story is that he comes from the tiny Mansi community, a Finno-Ugric people more closely related to Hungarians. Even if he is from the country of Russia, he is not ethnically Russian, as that country is a patchwork of people, much like the old Soviet Union was.

Not trying to correct anyone, it just seems that if Provodnikov is one of 10,000 Mansi left on earth, they should get their infrequent due. I think it’s safe to say he is the toughest Mansi on the planet. – Steve

No doubt about that, Steve.

I think the more that Provodnikov fights on HBO in high-profile bouts the more we will learn about his personal history and his ethnic background. I think his fierce fighting spirit, humble personality and place of origin make him a good subject for those pre-fight human interest stories that HBO is so good at producing.

Same thing can be said about Golovkin, who is part Korean (mother’s side of the family) and part Russian (father’s side). I don’t know if, “ethically speaking,” this means he can be considered a Slavic-Korean or a Korean Slav or if there is such a term (I doubt it). All I know is that the last half Korean-half Russian boxer who made the international scene was a major f___ing badass – Kostya Tszyu.

 

GOOD LUCK!

Hey Doug, I’ll try to keep this short. First, Provodnikov is a bad mother f___er.  He was always fun to watch on ESPN2, and I’m still a fan of Mile High Mike, but WOW. Alvarado can bang and he can box, which is why the congressman chose to fight Rios instead. Man, what a show on Sat. HBO needs to get off Triple G’s nuts and promote the s__t out the Siberian Rocky. Mike is no tomato can.

To my point. I know I am in the minority, but Marquez landed the bigger cleaner punches against Bradley, much like he did against Manny in their third fight. I think he won. I won’t cry robbery but good luck to HBO and Top Rank when trying to promote Timmy. The best welters are with Golden Boy and Showtime and Tim has zero KO power.

Speaking of which, good luck to GBP and Showtime trying to promote Mayweather-Khan. Besides a bunch of Brits, maybe, is there anyone that is really demanding or willing to spend their hard earned money to see this fight?  Absolutely horrible.  I’ll pass…as will many others. Thanks Doug. – Hugo

I’ll say it again, Mayweather-Khan is worth doing provided it’s done in the UK. Does anyone on this side of the Pond care? Probably not. But “the bunch of Brits” you mentioned number in the hundreds of thousands and the British Pound is stronger than the U.S. dollar.

Bradley is not an easy pay-per-view-level sell, but I think he’s had a very good 2013, which should help HBO and Top Rank promote his fights next year. The Provodnikov fight is a fight of the year candidate and the victory over JMM wasn’t viewed as controversial as the Pacquiao fight. (More than a few media peers that I respect had the fight scored even or very close for Bradley or Marquez, but most folks thought Timmy won a competitive but clear-cut decision.)  

It’s true that GBP/Showtime have most of the best welters, but the winner of “the congressman” and Rios makes for a bigtime rival for Timmy and one of my favorite Golden Boy up-and-comers, Keith Thurman, is the No. 1 contender for the WBO title held by Bradley. So if the “Cold War” prevents GBP and Top Rank from working out a deal, a Bradley-Thurman fight would go to purse bid and whoever puts up the most money will win the right to promote what would likely be a well-received matchup.

I’m also still a fan of Mile High Mike. After a well-deserved rest and a move to 147 pounds for a comeback fight or two, I think he would make for an enticing opponent for Bradley.

 

HELLO FROM KAZAKHSTAN

Hey Dougie,
Greetings from Kazakhstan. Thanks for sharing you knowledge with us.

I got few questions regarding GGG, Provodnikov, Bradley and Kovalev.

How long it will take for GGG to get into the pound for pound list or is it actually impossible concerning his age (31)?

What do you think about these match ups?

Bradley vs Danny Garcia or Amir Khan (I think Bradley should beat who is actually faster and younger than him)

GGG vs Ward, Martinez (predictions and chances)

Provodnikov vs Rios (btw, I thought Alvarado would oubtbox Ruslan, but it didn’t happen)

Kovalev vs Stevenson, Ward (if Ward moves to light heavyweight)

Lastly, I really get pissed off when people start talking about Peter Quillin bating up GGG, I think  GGG will easily outbox him. It is obvious that GGG level is way high than Quillin’s. Do you agree?

Rakhmet Dougie (it means “thanks” in Kazakh language)  – Ablai Gazizov

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ablai. I’m happy to share mine.

I would favor Golovkin over Quillin but I’m not sure that would be an easy fight. Yes, GGG is the more polished boxer of the two unbeaten titleholders. He had close to 400 amateur bouts at the highest level. Quillin had 15-20 amateur bouts. However, Quillin is athletically gifted and very big. He’s also got a “winners” mentality. He won’t be easy to beat.

I would slightly favor Stevenson and Ward to beat Kovalev (on points due to their hand speed and movement), but I certainly wouldn’t put much stock in that opinion if I were you. I thought Nathan Cleverly would outpoint “the Krusher” and you see how that fight turned out.

I also thought Alvarado would outbox Provo. I’m glad I don’t bet on these fights. I’d slightly favor Provo (who I think is a little faster and more explosive) to beat Rios if they ever fought (and, man, I hope they do get it on one day).

I think GGG stops Martinez late but would get outpointed by Ward (if they were to fight in early 2014).

I think Bradley vs. Garcia and Khan are toss-up matchups, but I’ll go with the more experienced veteran (Timmy) by narrow points verdicts in both fights.

I don’t think it’s too late for Golovkin to get into mythical P4P rankings. All he has to do is beat Martinez and I think most boxing scribes and publications would have him crack their top 10. If he steps up to 168 pounds and beats Ward or Carl Froch, which isn’t inconceivable, he’s in like Flynn. If he leapfrogs 168 and goes for a light heavyweight standout like Kovalev or THE RING champ, Stevenson, forget about it – if he wins those fights you’ll be asking me where he rates “all time.” LOL.

Let’s take it one fight at a time, though. Curtis Stevens aims to make things very interesting on Nov. 3.

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