Hi Michael and Doug,
I hope this email finds you both well.
I was very disappointed with way this weekend’s heavyweight fight was handled, so I felt inclined to send this to you. I included on my boxing blog mbj7944.wordpress.com although, I wish more people could read it.
Thanks for all your hard work.
In the wake of his all action losing effort against Cuban standout Mike Perez, it was initially reported that Magomed Abdusalamov suffered a broken hand, a broken nose, and a blood clot on his brain. Since then, Abdusalamov’s condition has drastically deteriorated. On Sunday he was placed in a medically induced coma, and has since suffered a stroke. His once promising career is now over, and his quality of life and future are now at risk. This occurred during a fight in which he made $40,000, and no titles were on the line. HBO commentators Jim Lampley, Roy Jones Jr, and Max Kellerman, rightfully praised the courage and heart of both men involved. Fans around the world watching would have no doubt cheered on the spectacle and been in awe of what they were witnessing. Although, none of those who enjoyed the action Saturday night will spend their time nursing Abdusalamov back to health or paying his abundant medical bills.
Abdusalamov’s corner is the most to blame for the beating which he suffered, as they failed to do there most important job; protecting the health of their fighter. John David Jackson, who I have always admired, dropped the ball this weekend, and it cost Abdusalamov a lot more than just a loss on his record. Abdusalamov did what he was supposed to do, he gave the fight his all, and gave no quarter. Unfortunately for him, there was nobody sensible enough in his corner to suggest stopping the fight. Ridiculously enough, nobody ever even asked Abdusalamov if he was OK, even though he gave many clear indications that he was anything but. He complained nearly every round about his nose, and his cheek, things that are very out of character for a prizefighter. Had the fight been stopped, maybe he would have the chance to come back a try another day, but the shortsightedness of his corner has guaranteed that will not be the case.
This constantly reoccurring issue needs further examination, and is a much bigger case for a worldwide boxing commission than any fraudulent claims or robbery cries. These are lives which are on the line, families which are torn apart over something as meaningless as a single fight. In a sport which praises reckless and dangerous fighting styles and criticizes those who fight safely and smartly it is no doubt that this continues to be an issue. Guillermo Rigondeaux was barred from the HBO network for having the audacity, to boxing intelligently and protect himself at all times. While Timothy Bradley could only get off their s__t-list by allowing Ruslan Provodnikov to batter his brains in for twelve straight rounds. Referees like Steve Smoger are applauded for letting a fight go on long past the point of reason, while referees who stop a fight a second too soon are thrown to the wolves and accused of robbing a fighter. Athletically limited warriors like Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward are made immortal for beating the hell out of each other, while technicians like Pernell Whitaker are dismissed as boring and dis-interesting.
I’m not trying to say that it is morally wrong to enjoy a brawl, or that every fighter should employ a safety first style. Nor am I suggesting that there is any way to take the danger out of boxing. Abdusalamov knew what he signed up for, a fight; which win or lose, may take more from him than it returns. Although with that being said, I would have much rather seen a few less action rounds, and instead seen Abdusalamov live to fight again. – Matthew
Likewise, Matthew. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Abdusalamov’s current health situation is gut wrenching for fans who thought the fight should have been stopped AND for those who cheered on the violence. There’s an ugly mix of guilt and outrage, much of which has been directed at John David Jackson (and some of it has been aimed at HBO, which doesn’t make much sense to me).
I agree that Jackson missed more than one opportunity to stop the fight, but so did the referee and the ringside physicians. Watching the fight on TV it looked like Abdusalamov was a thoroughly beaten man – mentally as well as physically – after the sixth round. But I’ve spoken to people (media and fans) who were there inside Madison Square Garden’s Theater and everyone I’ve talked to says it just looked like a good action fight. They thought it was a rough fight, a bloody struggle, but they did not believe that Abdusalamov was in serious trouble or mortal danger.
As for HBO, yeah, the network’s commentators celebrated Abdusalamov’s courage but they also repeatedly noted that he was taking too much punishment.
And contrary to what Bernard Hopkins and too many boxing purists believe, HBO has no agenda against technical/defensive-minded boxers. Pernell Whitaker – the quintessential slick boxer – fought most of his hall-of-fame career on HBO (he may have appeared on the network more than any other fighter) and for the most part, his skill (even when it produced monotonous results in the ring) was celebrated.
HBO wants to televise as many hardcore sluggers as it can because those types of fighters usually produce dramatic television but the network has a history of showing love to talented stylists. I don’t think Bradley has ever been on HBO’s “s__t list.” He’s fought his last six bouts on HBO (two on HBO Pay Per View) and his average payday for those six outings is well over seven figures. As for Rigo, he’s got a Dec. 7 date on HBO. Did they really want to book him again this year? Probably not, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have it out for the Cuban. There are only so many dates and so much budget left to go around for the second half of any year and there were more popular fighters (yes, including the guy Rigo beat, Nonito Donaire) who needed to be placed. HBO is a network; their primary concern is putting on compelling programs and getting ratings. They’re not obligated to help run the sport fairly.
As for “athletically limited warriors” like Gatti and Ward being immortalized over superior technicians like Whitaker, that’s just life, my man. Rock and rap stars are going to get a lot more press and props than classical and jazz musicians.
BLOOD THIRSTY GHOULS
Just reading your mailbag and the first one alarmed me. I didn’t know Mago was in a coma, but can’t say that it surprised me, he was taking a brutal beating and it was almost unwatchable, and I kept wondering why they didn’t pull the plug. It is so sad that this guy is now in a coma from a beating that everyone knew should be stopped. John David Jackson should be ashamed of himself, he was a fighter, he knows better.
But this takes me to my next point, everybody wants the Arturo Gatti blood and guts warrior, the Vazquez/Marquezes, the Margaritos, etc. But where in the f__k are those guys now? Margarito is blind, Vazquez is blind (and was basically BEFORE his last fight with Marquez but everyone kept quiet) and Gatti is dead. Do you think the inhumane beatings he took in the ring contributed to his lifestyle and ultimate death? YES! Listen to everyone around him they said he could barely see and was all f___ed up, it was because of the “Blood Thirsty Ghouls” you promote who want to see this kind of violence. Let me ask you this, how many of you blood thirsty ghouls will send Gatti’s kid’s a dime, or Gerald McClellan, or Vazquez now that he can’t make a living, etc., the list goes on. Nobody will give a f__k about Mago in two weeks. He will be forgotten and left for his family to deal with. What about David Reed, he is all f__ked up too, a former Olympian and nobody cares.
All the while you guys hate a guy who actually wants to duck a punch and not end up punch drunk and brain dead. The same people want to play holier than thou right now over Mago but will hate on PBF or BHOP the next time they don’t use their brain as a punching bag. – JCB
I understand your frustration and outrage, JCB, but if you’re suggesting that the “Blood Thirsty Ghouls” are somehow responsible for the way boxers fight, you’re wrong.
In boxing, you have many different styles – sluggers, punchers, counter punchers, slick boxers, pressure fighters, technicians, etc. – and these methods of fighting are not merely a choice made by the boxer; it’s part of the individual’s mentality.
Gatti, Israel Vazquez and Antonio Margarito all fought the way they did long before they ever fought in front of huge crowds in high-profile main events on TV. Trust me, I was at many of Vazquez’s and Margarito’s early career bouts – long before any casual boxing fan knew who they were – and they fought the EXACT same way, with hell-bent relentlessness, in front of a couple hundred in a ballroom or auditorium as they did as champions fighting in front of thousands in arenas on Showtime and HBO.
They appreciated the fan support they received late in their careers but they didn’t fight in that risky manner to appease any “ghouls;” they fought that way because that is who they are – warriors, just like Gatti.
Tim Smith wrote an excellent column on Abdusalamov, where he admits (as many other ringside observers I’ve spoken to) that he didn’t feel that Mago was in any serious danger during fight. In the same article, Smith takes boxing trainers to task for not teaching better defense to their fighters. I agree that there are far fewer complete professional boxers in this era than during past decades. However, I also know that it’s not that simple.
Again, some individuals are born warriors and if they find their way into the dangerous world of professional boxing they are going to be sluggers once they step between those ropes – and it doesn’t matter what their trainers try to teach them in the gym or what fans want or don’t want to see.
Do you think the recently deceased Rudy Perez, who trained Vazquez for the warrior’s final pro bouts, didn’t want his fighter to box instead of slug it out? Perez, who made Marco Antonio Barrera, was a boxing specialist. He had Vazquez boxing in the gym, just as Freddie Roach did, just like every one of Gatti’s trainers had him on his toes and working his jab in camps. But when the bell rang for the actual fights these guys’ instincts took over.
Even boxers who WANT to be slick and tactical in the ring wind up taking punishment if their nature is to slug it out. Former WBO heavyweight titleholder Lamon Brewster wanted to be a chess player in the ring. All of his trainers – from the late, great Bill Slayton to Roach to Shadeed Suluki to Jessie Reid – taught him the finer points of boxing in the gym. But when Brewster got in the ring it was “Rock-‘em-Sock-‘em Robots.” Lamon is a smart guy and a nice guy outside of the ring, but when he was in it, he was a slugger and puncher, and he took just as much as he dished out. And sadly, like Margz and Izzy, he’s blind in one eye now.
But I know Brewster, Margarito and Vazquez and I can tell you that they aren’t bitter (or broke). They knew the risks of professional boxing. And truth be told, there are plenty of former “slick” boxers who are in just as bad or worse physical shape than that trio.
All boxers are at risk, regardless of their styles or mentalities. Roy Jones Jr. and Hopkins never wanted to take a punch in order to deliver one. Both have brilliant boxing minds in their own way, but both veterans are risking their health by continuing to fight at their advanced ages. Mayweather is still at or close to his physical peak, but if he keeps fighting another three or four years, he’ll be at serious risk, too.
I remember when John David Jackson was making the transition from boxer to trainer (in the late 1990s). Jackson, who was a very slick and smart technician when he was fighting, ultimately knew when to stop his own career, but that doesn’t mean he knows when to quit during a fight. Jackson lost THE RING’s 1994 Fight of the Year against Jorge Castro via late TKO. He was dominating the bloody battle but because he had an ax to grind with the WBA and his emotions were involved, he fought out of character, took the fight to the ultra-rugged Argentine and eventually got KTFO.
It was a bad move on his part but John is a fighter, and he’s still one at heart. It’s very hard for fighters to quit. They’re going to risk their health one way or another, be it in one brutal fight (or a series of brutal fights) or by staying in the game too long. That’s why we have commissions, referees and ringside physicians to make that difficult choice for them.
I’m not placing blame on the referee of the Abdusalamov-Perez fight (Benjy Esteves) or the ring doctors, but I do hope that in the aftermath of Frankie Leal’s passing and what happened on Saturday that boxing commissions and officials are more proactive in regard to fighter safety.
GGG VS. PRIME PAVLIK
Good prediction on the Gennady Golovkin-Curtis Stevens fight. You were right about Stevens just sitting on the ropes. I didn’t expect him to throw 30 punches around and to be afraid after getting caught. His corner spent a lot of time trying to convince him that he could be in this fight at the center of the ring. He was going to have a chance to win using speed and that jab… he was able to land it at will and then throw combos on GGG’s dome, backing him up in the process. Too bad he didn’t get the memo. I saw only a round or so of that and started thinking the fight was going to get really interesting, then he became a turtle and just took punishment for the rest of the fight.
Disappointing, even though I predicted an early GGG KO and I wasn’t sold on Stevens being some crazy puncher. I give Golovkin credit… he’s not hard to hit on the dome, but you aren’t finding his chin. Stevens sure couldn’t find it. Even though, he had one hook that came really close and looked to freeze GGG. Anyways, cmon, you aren’t going to get any power or leverage on your shots leaning on the ropes. It’s a shame, Curtis didn’t have the mental “balls” if you know what I mean. Well, I don’t see a lot of world beaters at middleweight, haven’t for a while… it’s GGG’s division to lose, imo. Sergio is too old, man. His hands are definitely faster than Curt’s and he has an excellent jab, but the legs are gone and I feel his power isn’t quite there anymore. A few years back, I think he spins GGG often, cuts him up, on his way to decision. Now, he is too hittable. He should be covering up at all times. I can see what you envisioned in an old mailbag. GGG losing a bunch of rounds and having to come back to stop him in a fight he was losing. I don’t want to see Sergio go out like that. I truly believe he cashes out on Cotto, Alvarez and retires. He would take this fight, but it’s a bad idea to take on GGG when you aren’t 100 percent anymore.
And one thing, I know GGG’s trainer is trying to hype Golovkin, but please dude, Marvin Hagler would run through him. Hagler would be Vince Phillips to Golovkin’s Kostya. And don’t even get me started on Carlos Monzon and his jackhammer jab. Dude, just keep your mouth shut.
Here is a fight I wanted to see: prime Kelly Pavlik vs GGG.
Who had the heavier hands? Not sure. And Pavlik liked to punch to the body and jabbed often, throwing almost 100 punches around, especially against come forward guys. Who can forget him walking through Edison Miranda (the version that should have beaten Arthur Abraham) and grinding him down. I think that version vs GGG is 50-50. I wouldn’t go to the bathroom for that one. – Mauro
Golovkin versus the 2007 version of Pavlik would be an awesome middleweight showdown. You’re right in that GGG’s aggressive style would enable Pavlik to land his power punches in bunches, but “The Ghost” would also be open for return fire (and I think Golovkin is the slightly heavier puncher of the two). Neither man likes to back up so the fight would be decided in the center of the ring. Pavlik would have the edge in volume but Golovkin, the more accomplished and experienced amateur boxer, would be the more accurate power puncher. I’m thinking that Pavlik’s penchant for infighting and his longer torso would ultimately be his undoing as Golovkin would win a trench war of attrition by getting to the taller man’s body. I also think Pavlik’s tendency to cut would be a problem. I like GGG by late TKO.
No argument from me on your opinions of how GGG would fare against Hagler and Monzon. Those are two top-five all-time great middleweight champs IMO. GGG has a long way to go just to be mentioned in the same sentence as those two. Abel Sanchez is one of my favorite boxing people, but I wish he didn’t make those comparisons. Boxing fans and industry folks compare today’s elite fighters with the greats of the past too quickly and too often. What’s wrong with just being among the best of this era?
I understand why you don’t want to see Martinez accept GGG’s challenge but I want to see the showdown. I think Golovkin has earned the right to fight for universal championship recognition, and I believe that “Maravilla” will be competitive. Also, the Golovkin fight might turn out to be the most lucrative option for Martinez next year if Miguel Cotto decides to take Golden Boy’s offer and fight Canelo Alvarez.
OK, I’m probably going to be bombarded by sentences like “you don’t know s__t about boxing” (which isn’t far from the truth) if the content of this email ever makes anywhere where internet comments are possible, but I was not that impressed by Golovkin. I have to admit, I’ve seen very few of his fights, probably only 3: the one vs Stevens, the one vs Ishida and the Proksa fight. Did he stop a dangerous opponent last Saturday? Yes. Does he have a good jab? Yes. Does he have a good power? Throws nasty body shots? A good double left hook? Yes, yes and yes. But, though this may be at least naive of me, if not stupid, judging from some of the comments at the bottom of Golovkin related articles on this site, people want to see him vs Mayweather and Ward, and people seem to think he would destroy Martinez. I’m not saying Golovkin sucks, but Jesse Brinkley also beat Curtis Stevens pretty bad and dropped him twice and nobody wants to see Brinkley vs Martinez, Mayweather or Ward. To be honest, if there’s such a thing as a motivated and well-trained Chavez Jr., I think that’s a really competitive fight. And no one is calling Chavez Jr an elite or pound for pound fighter. Yet Golovkin is a freaking monster that would eat up everyone from 154 to 168? Like I mentioned, the double left hook that dropped Stevens was nice, but I also saw Golovkin throw some patty cake punches on a Stevens who was just covering up, back to the ropes, and very little infighting skills. Maybe,I just don’t know anything about boxing. – DVH
I’m sure you know as much about boxing as anyone else that follows the sport. If Golovkin loses his next fight or gets dominated by Ward in the near future, you’ll instantly become a boxing genius. (Whoopie!)
I disagree with your statement that Golovkin (or Stevens) has “very little infighting skills.” I think GGG is very good on the inside and I think Stevens is at least competent.
You make a great a point about Brinkley beating Stevens, however, that fight took place a few years ago at 168 pounds. I think Stevens has matured and improved since that fight (probably because of that loss) and I believe that he’s faster and harder-punching at 160 pounds.
Anyway, Golovkin is going to get more credit for his victories than someone like Brinkley, and he’ll be viewed as a potential world-beater despite not facing any elite competition, for a variety of reasons. He’s undefeated. He’s got stellar amateur credentials. He’s got KO power in both hands. And he’s fighting on HBO.
If GGG was still fighting in Germany, off U.S. television, and he was beating the same caliber of opposition, trust me, very few fans would wonder how he would fare vs. Mayweather and Ward. But he’s performed well on HBO and his viewership has increased with each appearance on the American premium cable network. The popular he becomes the more fans – hardcore and casual – are going to want to see him fight more established fighters.
These fights will eventually happen. Before they happen, you’ll see Golovkin feast on more B- and C-level guys, but you’ll also witness him break down big, strong, experienced and capable top-10 contenders, such as Martin Murray. And as he does this, he will gain more credibility and popularity, which will help make big showdowns vs. Martinez and Ward.
The Mayweather fight ain’t gonna happen. I don’t know why anyone even brings that up. There’s a slim chance the Chavez fight happens but if it does, so what? There isn’t such a thing as a motivated and well-trained Junior.
I don’t think GGG will have an easy time with Martinez and right now I’d favor Ward to beat him but I don’t think the super middleweight champ would have an easy time with the “Good Boy.”
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
I hate to argue with anyone, especially you, but how do you figure Mayweather should get FOY? He only fought twice this year and fought like a boring sissy (as usual) both times. He couldn’t hurt either opponent let alone knock ‘em out. The man is the most overrated fighter, maybe even athlete, in the history of modern sports. Sorry to say it Doug but in that regard I hope you don’t get your way. – Flat Fish
I don’t think Mayweather is the Fighter of the Year. What I said in the Monday mailbag is that he’s a better candidate for the honor than Golovkin. He only fought twice in 2013 (which is a busy year for him) but he outpointed a top-five welterweight contender in Robert Guerrero and he outboxed the reigning junior middleweight champ in Canelo Alvarez. He dominated both young guns. That’s a pretty good year IMO. I think Adonis Stevens is having a better year. I think Tim Bradley had a better year, too.
Mayweather is only overrated when comparing him to the all-time greats. Otherwise, he’s among four or five most accomplished boxers of the last 20 years.
It’s been a great year for boxing. I’m proud to be a boxing fan this year. Good fights, good match ups but probably none better than what we just witnessed last Saturday night. Man, what a fight! At least 4 rounds of the year candidates. Rounds, 5, 8, 11 and 12 were classics. I don’t even know which one is my favorite. What a great fight. This is what boxing is all about. I’m tired of hearing all this praise for “great boxers” like Hopkins, Floyd and all those who never engage in a real fight. Instead I’m starting to like and praise the guys who really come to fight and put it all on the line like Tyson Marquez and Giovanni Segura. These two, plus Gennady Golovkin who is almost a newer version of my idol JC Chavez – a perfect offensive machine – give me reasons to believe that my sport is in great shape.
When these kind of fighters excel in the ring, we get new fans to join in. Boxing hurts itself when boxers like Floyd stink out the arena. Fans don’t get their money’s worth. These guys aren’t great fighters to me, they are just great stinkers. I’m all in favor of giving fighters like Gatti their place where they belong, in the Hall of Fame, because they exemplify the meaning of our sport. These guys are the true heroes, the ones who have to be enshrined, not the guys who run and evade a true fight like the you know who’s of the sport.
Whenever I hear that GGG is a flawed fighter because he gets hit here and there, I tell them that if he’s a flawed defensive fighter, then Floyd, Bernard and all those cuties, are flawed offensive fighters that never get the job done (KO) because they’re not good enough offensively.
Thanks Doug, ALL HAIL THE TRUE CHAMPIONS AND WARRIORS OF OUR SPORT. Loved the fight!! – Juan Valverde, Tijuana
Well, there’s clearly a sharp divide in the sport right now between the “boxing purists” who laud the tactical, technical and defensive likes of Mayweather and Hopkins and the so-called “blood thirsty ghouls” like you (LOL) who love to see action and warrior mettle.
I think there are enough high-profile fights and enough variety among televised fighters to give both groups what they want. We’ve certainly seen a lot of both styles (and the kind of bouts they produce) at the highest levels this year.
If Mayweather and Hopkins carry the torch for “Sweet Pea” Whitaker and the purists, while little warriors like Segura and Marquez continue the blood-and-guts tradition of Gatti for the “ghouls.”
I view Golovkin the way I viewed Chavez Sr. back in the day – as mix of the warrior mentality with superb fundamentals and solid technique. GGG, like JCC, is a take-no-prisoners ring general.
By the way, if there are any ghouls out there who haven’t seen Segura-Marquez, do yourself a favor and watch it.
I agree that all the rounds you mentioned are Round of the Year candidates and I can’t decide which round was better. The back-and-forth action, ebb and flow, machismo, relentless pressure (from Segura), power sharp shooting (from Marquez) and dramatic ending elevated this fight to the top of my personal list of best fights of 2013.
Email Dougie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer