Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Friday mailbag

IT SHOULD BE ‘LIGHTS OUT’ FOR TONEY’S CAREER

Hey Dougie, what’s up? 
Are you as saddened as I am by the continuing demise of the once-great James Toney? Boxing commissions can’t keep giving him a license. It’s embarrassing for them and upsetting for us.

On a better note, what do you think of Anthony Joshua? I know he’s only fought guys he’s expected to beat, but he does look good, and he has good power. He also goes to the body, unlike certain heavyweights… I think we won’t know for sure if he can be a world beater until we’ve seen him take a punch and have to dig deep. David Price had us fooled and ESPN named him their prospect for 2012 – when he needed to dig deep and suck it up he failed. And lost. Twice. Hopefully Joshua has heart and a good chin, because I’m annoyed that our best heavyweight (Haye) doesn’t bother to fight any more.
 
Moving onto Andre Ward… He’s going to win. Does Edwin Rodriguez even have a chance? He’s an OK fighter going against one of the world’s best. I’m more interested in watching 24/7 and listening intently to Liev Schreiber’s awesome narration (not the first time I’ve mentioned him a mailbag). Anyways, keep up the good work. I hope I actually make it to the mailbag this week. I haven’t made the cut the last few times. Peace. – Bilal, London

Congrats on “making the cut” this week, Bilal. You’re on the Mailbag Varsity team. You’re also the only person who bothered mentioning the Ward-Rodriquez fight this week, so my guess is that most fans either give Rodriguez zero chance of upsetting Ward (or they expect the super middleweight champ to put on a boring clinic).

I’m in the minority (as usual) because I don’t think it will be a boring fight and I believe Rodriguez has a shot – admittedly a very slim one – if he starts extremely fast and either hurts the champ or puts the overwhelming odds favorite on the defensive. Now, when I say he needs to start “fast,” I don’t mean in a wild or reckless bombs-away manner. I mean that he needs to close the distance with purpose and he needs to commit to taking shots at Ward like Steve Kim on Twitter, if you know what I mean.

E-Rod must let his heavy hands go but he has to be sneaky – maybe a bit awkward or unorthodox (which he sometimes is) – with his punch selection (which should include body shots). If does this, I think he can cash in on that “puncher’s chance.”

Will it happen? I doubt it. Ward’s coming off shoulder surgery and he’s been out of the ring for 14 months but his heart and mind never left the game. And he’s been honing his body into a fine weapon ever since the doctors cleared him to start working out again over the summer. He’s also extremely motivated for this fight (as Rodriguez is, of course). Ward sounded just as hungry as Rodriguez when I spoke to him after yesterday’s final press conference, and he is WAY more intense.

I think Ward will have to box some rust off in the first three rounds, but he’ll land enough hard shots to keep Rodriguez honest. Once Ward finds his rhythm and figures out Rodriguez’s style by the middle rounds, he’ll take over the fight.

However, I do expect Rodriguez to make it interesting and perhaps give Ward fans (yes, he’s got them) a few nervous moments during the 12-round bout.

I’ve only seen two of Anthony Joshua’s fights (his first two), but he certainly looks like a future heavyweight force on paper and when he’s in against journeymen. He’s got the amateur background, the physical tools, athleticism, good technique, patience and poise. He’s also got the looks, intelligence and personality to become a crossover star. However, it’s way too early to tell if he’ll pan out. As you noted, we don’t know if he can take a solid shot or how his stamina will hold out if he’s forced to bite down on his mouthpiece and fight hard for a number of rounds. But I’ll be watching his progress this year (he still has two more fights scheduled) and in 2014 along with many others.

Regarding Toney, yes, I am saddened that he continues to fight. But it’s not because I think he’s tarnishing his legacy, it’s because he’s killing what’s left of his mind. It’s beyond “embarrassing” or “upsetting” for commissions to continue to allow him to fight – it’s dangerous.

All one has to do is listen to the way he talks to know that he’s suffering from the beginning stages of pugilistic dementia. He always mumbled a lot but now he’s slurring his words. Go to YouTube and watch a video of him being interviewed in the early 1990s and compare it to a recent interview. That says all there needs to be said about the issue.

Toney can still beat inexperienced ham-n-eggers like Matt Legg on muscle memory but the fact that he can’t get past guys like Jason Gavern should let him know that his fighting days should be done. And no disrespect to Gavern, who is a decent pro. He’s making a living and pursuing his dreams in boxing and that’s fine because even though he’s 36 years old, he’s only been a professional for 10 years. Toney is another story. Never mind his age (45), it’s the number of fights (90!) and length of his pro career (25 years!) that should force commissions to keep him out of the ring.

 

POST-KLITSCHKO ERA

Hi Doug,

Long time reader, first time writer. Always enjoying reading the breadth and variety of opinions so thought I would add mine into the mix!

I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the Prizefighter shows Eddie Hearn puts on the in the UK? If you’re not familiar with the concept, you start with 8 boxers who are randomly drawn against each other to fight 3 x 3 minute rounds. The winning 4 then fight 2 semi-finals straight after, with the winning 2 contesting the final at the end of the night. Last man standing (or, you know, ahead on the cards after 3 round) wins.

They are always hugely entertaining, draw a great crowd and contain a mix of upcoming talent and seasoned pros in the ‘last chance saloon’, which can lead to some great match-ups.

This week it is the turn of the heavyweights, and it got me thinking about the division as a whole. Given that Vitali looks to be imminently retiring and little bro probably won’t be far behind, who do you see rising to the top of the pile in a post-Klitschko era shakedown?

If Deontay Wilder can continue his KO demolition streak against a couple of more durable opponents then he will be the man to beat in my eyes. The guy has size, power, athleticism and a mean streak.

Interesting to see that David Price has teamed up with Adam Booth following his back-to-back KO’s by Tony the Tiger. The guy has the physical attributes and technical ability to go far so hopefully Booth can put him back on the right track.

Anyways, keep up the good work! – Matt, London, UK

I think Price and Booth are a good match, and if the Liverpudlian is brought back carefully I believe he can once again be a player – at least in the UK scene.

Wilder is coming along nicely; he could be the Heir Apparent of the post-Klitschko era, but we need to see how he reacts when somebody hits him back and takes him past five or six rounds. I think 2014 will be the year we find out if the Bronze Bomber is the real deal (apologies to Evander Holyfield) because Golden Boy Promotions would like to match him with either Bermane Stiverne or Chris Arreola for the top spot in the WBC (if not the vacant belt).

Whoever prevails in the Wilder-Stiverne-Arreola triangle will be a frontrunner to take over the division along with the David Haye-Tyson Fury winner and Kubrat Pulev.

I think Mike Perez, Odlanier Solis and Bryant Jennings are wild cards. I like Tomasz Adamek but I think he’s too long in the tooth to be considered a player two-to-three years from now. Denis Boytsov has a glossy record but I think he’ll be exposed by Wladdy when they fight sometime next year.

 

SICK OVER VIC

Dougie,
I’m depressed. Old Man Darchinyan came within one round of pulling off the upset. He turned the clock back and boxed so well.

It hurt me to see him get caught like that. Is Vic a Hall of Famer? I just have a soft spot for that guy. I think I’m gonna be depressed for a couple of weeks.

I wish they would’ve talked to him afterwards. I see no comments anywhere from him. I know he’s probably somewhere kicking himself. He was so close to getting his redemption. I really feel bad for the guy.

I’m depressed. – Mitch

Don’t be. Darchinyan has nothing to be ashamed of. Even though he lost to Donaire once again he still proved most of the boxing world wrong by more than holding his own with the odds favorite. Remember, he was given NO shot to beat Donaire, who supposedly had his number. The form he exhibited at age 37 (ancient for a natural flyweight) was remarkable.

Is he a hall of famer? Good question. I know some boxing writers who would vote for him. However, I know more who would snub him (as they do most of the little guys).

I think Darchinyan has accomplished more than enough to get his name on the ballot. He had a distinguished title reign at flyweight, unified two major belts at junior bantamweight (where he faced many quality opponents and was unbeaten) and he was a major player at bantamweight, where he faced the best of the best.

I don’t trip on his six losses. Darchinyan never played it safe or cherry picked opponents. He went after the best in every division he occupied – all, not some, of the best. I would give serious hall-of-fame consideration to Darchinyan.

 

HAGLER VS. GRIFFITH

Hi Doug,

Long time reader, back to your house of boxing days, have written a handful of times over the years. I would like to respectfully disagree with your characterization of Marvin Hagler as a bit of a plodder when you were answering the question in Monday’s mailbag. I followed Hagler from his first Hamsho defense through to his final fight and over the years made it a point of going back and watching his pre-championship fights, particularly the series of fights against Briscoe, Watts, Hart and Monroe. I think Hagler was past his prime even by the time of the Hearns fight and the thing that most impressed me about his earlier fights e.g.  the Briscoe, Sibson and Watts fights was how much Marvin moved and always on his toes. Hagler’s fitness was amazing in my opinion, he could move around world-class opponents, parrying their punches as if they were stationary and pepper them with hard combinations round after round. I think the problem was that when he got older, he relied on his decent power and amazing chin to compensate for the decline in athleticism.

I will admit, though, to not having seen enough good quality footage of Griffith to say that my favorite fighter of all time would have definitely beaten him. Griffith’s achievements against multiple generations of top welters and middles is absolutely stunning and it’s something to say that he might have had an even more impressive resume had he not had the Paret tragedy to contend with.

Keep up the amazing work and take care. Regards. – Dave  

Thanks for the kind words, Dave, and for reading my stuff for so many years. You’re going back 12-15 years when you bring up the ole HouseofBoxing.

Anyway, I certainly won’t argue against a Hagler victory over Griffith in a mythical matchup. I think Hagler is one of the five greatest middleweight champs of all time (along with Robinson, Monzon, Greb and Hopkins). You are correct that he could get on his toes and box, and that his defensive prowess was underrated. However, I think Griffith – when he was at his best as a middleweight in 1966-67 – was a much better fighter than Philly’s murderer’s row of Briscoe, Watts, Hart and Monroe (as well as Hamsho and Sibson). I’m not sure that Hagler would try to box on his toes against Griffith for an entire 15-round fight.

Griffith was a better overall boxer than Hagler in my opinion. In other words, I rate him higher than Hagler in a pound for pound sense. And I think talented and versatile boxers like Griffith, who was also physically strong and tough as nails, gave Hagler all he could handle as Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard did. I know Hagler was long in the tooth when he faced Leonard but he was at or near his peak when he faced Hands of Stone in 1983. Like Duran, Griffith was a quick and clever boxer who could move well and fight like hell on the inside and from a distance.  

Regardless of who would win, I know the fight would have gone the distance and it would have been very competitive.

 

PRIME HATTON VS. 140-POUND COTTO

Just a quick one for you Doug.  

Who wins between the same Ricky Hatton that beat Koysta Tszyu versus the Miguel Cotto who beat Ricardo Torres and Gianluca Branco around the same time? It’s a dream fight for me. I think the Hatton that entered the ring against Tszyu was Hatton in his prime. He took what fight was left in Tszyu but lost a bit himself that night too. He was never as good again. Around this time Cotto was very good but hadn’t yet entered his great stage which he did a year or 2 later with that fabulous run of wins against Malignaggi, Quintana, Urkal, Judah, Mosley and Gomez before his controversial loss to Margarito. You split them Dougie because I can’t. – Sean

I think the 2005 version of Hatton had a very good shot at beating the weight-drained 140-pound version of Cotto that was badly rocked against Torres (and also buzzed vs. “Chop Chop” Corley). The relentless hyper-active version of Hatton that wore down Tszyu and Carlos Maussa didn’t know he could lose – didn’t even understand that he could be hurt.

However, Cotto (even weight drained) had the power and precision to hurt Hatton. Cotto was the better boxer, the more complete fighter. He could box on the outside, fight while backing up or pressure his opponents and he didn’t waste punches.

Both fighters had BRUTAL body attacks. Just that aspect of their game along with their fierce pride would have ensured a fight for the ages. Too bad it never happened. If it did, though, I think Cotto would have prevailed in a crazy battle of attrition. I’ll take the Puerto Rican’s poise and accurate power punching over the Mad Hatter’s frenetic pressure.

However, if that fight were to take place in Manchester with Mickey Vann or Dave Parris as the referee, I’ll go with Hatton. “There’s only one Ricky Hatton!”

 

 

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

Around the web