Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Friday mailbag

RETURN OF THE KINGS

What’s up Dougie,

Been a while since I last dropped in. I’m just going to give my input on returning ring-kings Andre Ward and Manny Pacquiao.

Let’s start with Ward. The guy gets ripped a lot for being a supposedly boring fighter. I think those people are full of it. In my view anyways. I respect Ward a lot. He just battled back a barrage of ring-rust and nagging injuries all the while battling off a granite-tough fighter in Edwin Rodriguez.

And props to you Doug, for refusing to put Ward in the same group with Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, and especially Wladimir Klitschko. Ward does what it takes to win. Those other three pretty much expect their opponents to take all the risks while they themselves merely take the points.

I’d also like to state that all this drum-beating for Ward-Gennady Golovkin is waste of energy. Golovkin hasn’t even fought a top notch middleweight yet and now he’s expected to fight the world’s best super middleweight? I’m not saying that to discredit Golovkin. I just agree with the notion that he belongs at middleweight and therefore has his own division to clean out.

If there’s anyone who should move up it’s Ward himself. He’s already singlehandedly cleaned up his division. Furthermore, Rodriguez himself was pretty much a solid light-heavyweight contender and therefore Ward proved he can handle the bigger guys.

If anything Ward will be my clear pick to outbox Sergei Kovalev. Don’t get me wrong. The Russian is strong as an ox and brutally heavy-handed. I just don’t think he’s fast enough to catch a master-boxer like Ward.

Adonis Stevenson will be more the ultimate challenge. He’s also immensely strong and powerful but also very fast. I don’t know if Andre can get past Stevenson but knowing SOG, he certainly won’t shy from the challenge.

As for Pacquiao, I look at his entire career and for all his titles and career highlight knockouts there’s one thing missing: a distinguished championship reign.

I just wonder if Pac stayed at junior welter after knocking out Ricky Hatton if he would still be champion as of now. Either that or Juan Manuel Marquez would have beaten him at that weight instead since finally beating Pac was JMM’s goal in life.

And while Pac is coming off that disastrous KO loss to his nemesis he’s my pick over Brandon Rios. Do I make that pick with total conviction? Not really. Rios is dangerous and he’s fired up to win the biggest fight of his career. Counting him out before the fight is ridiculous.

But I still think that Pacquiao is mentally strong enough to bounce back and with the turmoil that the Philippines is going through right now Pac is probably no doubt fighting on behalf his people as well as his own self-redemption. And that will most likely strengthen his resolve.

So I’m going with Pacquiao to win an intense battle and if I were more the gambling type I’ll be already steeling myself and crossing my fingers. I probably will anyways. Thanks. – PM 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, PM. I agree with pretty much all of your points and opinions.

I also favor Pacquiao over Rios, by decision, but a late stoppage wouldn’t surprise me. However, I don’t think it’s an “easy” fight for the Filipino hero and I don’t believe a victory is a foregone conclusion with this matchup.

Never mind the fact that he was knocked out cold in his last fight, Pacquiao has been a pro fighter since January of 1995 and he’s put his soon-to-be 35-year-old body through a lot. He’s also achieved every goal he ever set, surpassed every dream he ever had.

So I have to wonder how much desire Pacquiao has for this fight and the fight game in general. If he’s not 100 percent motivated and focused to kick Rios’ ass, “Bam Bam” will beat the unholy s__t out of him.

My guess is that the massive tragedy in the Philippines and rebounding from the Marquez loss is more than enough to motivate Pacquiao to performing at his best – and if he’s at his best, he should beat Rios. However, even if he outclasses the young slugger he won’t easily break the underdog’s spirit. I think we’re gonna get a good fight.

I think Pacquiao would have had an epic run at 140 pounds had he chose to stay there after annihilating then-RING champ Ricky Hatton in 2009.

I agree Ward is ready to invade the 175-pound division. I also agree that Stevenson is more a threat than Kovalev. I think Ismayl Sillakh will expose some of the Russian punisher’s limitations before getting clipped.

However, Ward made it very clear following the Rodriguez fight that he won’t leave the 168-pound division for at least another year. You can expect the drum beating for Ward-GGG to get louder and louder during the course of 2014. Hopefully, Golovkin gets the opportunity to prove he’s “the man” at 160 pounds next year and Ward fights him before jumping to light heavyweight.

 

FROCH VS. GROVES

Hi Dougie,
I’ve been looking forward to this fight for a long time and I’m a big fan of George Groves. I think he is the FUTURE of the SMW division. I guess the question everyone is asking is he really ready for someone as tough & seasoned as Carl Froch. He’s also had his out of the ring problems splitting from trainer Adam Booth and losing his battle to stop Booth from taking a cut from his purse.

But you know what Dougie? Not only do I think Groves can pull off a shock upset I even think there is a big chance he’s gonna KO the Cobra.

I have to admit I was never a huge Froch fan. I always felt he only ever did quite enough to win a fight and the all action fighter coming out guns blazing we have now has only really appeared since the defeat to Ward (the 1st Mikkel Kessler fight being an exception).

Since Froch beat Lucian Bute for IBF title he has gone out & stated he’s the best British World Champion of all time (Calzaghe, Eubanks, Benn & Collins in his own division alone ?????) & he’s demanding that Groves respects him! I think Froch seems to have become a fighter who believes his own HYPE and boy that can be a dangerous thing.

I see the fight going a lot like most people probably do. “St.George” has got good body movement & is quick on his feet & I can see him building a points advantage by the midway mark. I think Froch will come on strong in the second half of the fight & start backing Groves up to the ropes but I think this is when Groves will be at his most dangerous.

We’ve seen Froch unloading on an opponent before and he just leaves himself completely open with his hands down by his sides. Groves also has an absolute sweet right hand KO punch which we’ve seen before and I believe Froch thinks that Groves can’t hurt him.

It all leads to one thing, Dougie, Froch face down on the canvas & Goodnight Vienna! Feel free to call me a deluded son of bitch!! Cheers Dougmeister. – Mark, UK

A Groves victory is not at all inconceivable, Mark. He’s smart, very talented, supremely confident, and he’s got a lot of experience for a 25-year-old boxer with only 19 pro bouts.

However, very few active fighters can equal Froch’s world-class experience, a The Cobra is not an “old” 36. He’s still got his legs, reflexes and granite chin. I know Groves has good power but I don’t think he can knockout Froch.

I also think the young challenge will have a difficult time outthinking the veteran. Too many fans and members of the media underrate Froch’s intelligence and ring savvy because of his raw style and rugged nature.

The fact is Froch is a smart and versatile boxer who can also bring the ruckus.

I think he’ll do whatever it takes to beat Groves. If that means box from the outside, he’ll do that. If it means take the fight to the young gun, he’ll do that. We might see three or four different styles and strategies from Froch tomorrow. I think Groves will make his own adjustments, which will make for a good fight, but I think Froch’s hand will be raised after 12 quality rounds.

 

STRADDLING THAT FENCE

Douglasson Fishlander,

Thanks so much for publishing my previous post. You made good comments and I realized I did come off rather flip about Ward’s “flashing brief glimpses of superior athleticism.” I’m well aware Ward possesses superior athleticism 24/7 and is certainly a special talent.

Anyway, looking forward to the fight this weekend, but I seem to find myself on both sides of the “ruckus outside the ring” debate. On the one hand, I like that boxing isn’t the NFL, and therefore is able to be as honestly ugly as it wants to be, showing the world warts and all.

On the other, and this is what I wrote to a friend: “kicking people with Parkinson’s, hurling the words “faggot” and f***ing Mexican” around with reckless abandon, and then mocking Parkinson’s, certainly doesn’t help and is a throwback to far uglier times. Plus, cornermen and their “crews” shouldn’t be reduced to acting like 13-year-olds in a middle school fight.

Your thoughts?

And one other thing: couldn’t incidents like this be avoided by not scheduling gym times so that opposing camps overlap? – Chris in Argentina

I don’t put it past Bob Arum, ever the master promoter, to have purposely set their media workout schedules to overlap in hopes that some kind of media-frenzy starting confrontation broke out between Team Pacquiao and Team Rios.

I don’t care for the racist and homophobic rhetoric or the insensitivity to Roach’s condition, but I’m also aware that boxing is an emotionally charged sport and that gym culture is often raw, vulgar and un-PC. If you spend enough time at Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club or Garcia’s Boxing Academy, you will hear a lot of ugly words from most of the folks training there. Boxing gyms can be like boys’ lockerrooms but they’re also cultural melting pots and the racial/foul talk is often uttered in good natured fashion, but when there’s bad blood between certain individuals – as there is between Roach and Ariza – sometimes that macho/sophomoric gym mentality can spill out into the public and it’s not pretty when it happens.

However, it does command a lot of attention and Pacquiao-Rios is a pay-per-view event, so I doubt Arum, HBO or the managers of the fighters are terribly embarrassed by the incident.

 

WILD CARD VS. GARCIA BOXING

Hello Dougie,

It has been quite a while since I have written. Many fights have gone by and as usual enjoy reading your mailbags I just haven’t had the time to write in. There is plenty of them writing to you anwways. Since Twitter, I don’t hit you up on Yahoo messenger anymore. Long time follower as you know. I’m still waiting for you to get up here in Montreal so we can go have that Guinness.

Now onto the fight. I gather by now you probably have gone over all the videos out regarding the brawl between the camps and I guess I can’t resist but to put my comments out there and, well, we will see if they make it to you and get a reply on it. I will be interested to see your take on it.

For the record I have always been a fan of Pacquiao all the way back to when he was still an unknown in the lower weighs and I am still a fan. The same as I am a big fan of Rios. Regarding that stupid brawl the last day, my take on it is that Roach has either lost it, he is still bitter about the Margarito/Rios incident (with just reason, btw), he despises Ariza that badly, or he is just jealous of Garcia success lately. That being said, I sense that the media just tends to give him a bit too much of a free pass as sometimes he is allowed just to go off at will.

If I recall correctly, weren’t you at some point kicked out of the Wild Card or banned because of a story you wrote? Don’t get me wrong, I always admired Roach but having an illness doesn’t grant you the right to just do as please let along insulting other’s race or heritage. Same goes for Ariza poking fun at Roach illness.

I know Elie Seckbach may be biased on his videos and reporting but so is everybody else. HBO/Showtime come to mind, just listen to the commentating. That’s nothing new. I have seen all the videos and not just the ones from Seckbach and if someone is backing up on their own words it is Roach. I could even say that he is lying but I digress. Just as an example in a video with Radio Rahim, Roach is telling him he was waiting for 20 plus minutes and when you watch the video carefully in the background the clock is showing 11:10 unless I cannot read a clock anymore.

In any event, Ariza seems to be the common denominator on all of this and it is just too bad. (For the record never liked Ariza, not when he was with Roach/Manny and nor now that Ariza is with the Garcia’s, but they got their reasons.)

As for the fight itself, I think nobody is really giving a chance to Rios. In my humble opinion, Rios is a live dog. In paper the fight sure looks like a no contest but even though Rios is no Chavez let us not forget what Chavez did to Taylor or Duran to Sugar. Rios may be outpointed, overwhelmed with Pacquiao’s angles and speed but he will do his damage. Even Margarito did some damage to Pacquio, and the PacMan at that time was in much better shape, younger, and yes have not experience the KO. I consider Rios to be a bit of an improved version of Margarito. Rios has much more underrated skills than Margarito had. If Rios were to use that jab which he has, he can work himself inside to PacMan maybe not for a whole round but long enough to create some havoc. We all know what Rios does when he goes inside.

I see the fight going where Manny racks up the points for the first 5-6 rounds maybe Rios squeezing a round out of those first rounds but with Rios doing enough damage to the PacMan to slow him down at which point Manny may be force to stand and trade. In my eyes, I see Rios with a stoppage between the eighth and 10th. If it gets to the points, Pacquio wins for sure.

Call me crazy but that’s how I see it. If you recall my previous emails you will see that I am fan for brawlers but with enough skills there to do some extra damage: Duran (the best of them all), Chavez, Morales, Vargas, and more recently Froch and Rios.

Regards and looking forward to hearing from you and hopefully making that Friday Mailbag. – Carlos, Montreal, Canada

You made it, Carlos. Good to hear from you. Too bad it took an ugly incident for you to finally write me (LOL. Don’t feel bad… nobody was writing about this fight until the Roach-Garcia-Ariza-Donald Leary confrontation.)

I have no doubt that Rios will be able to put at least some punishment on Pacquiao, even if the veteran is at his absolute best.

If Rios can catch Pacquiao with clean power shots as Marquez did, he has a good shot at breaking down the Filipino legend. However, just because JMM was able to do it last December doesn’t mean Rios can pull it off, even though he’s in his prime.

Marquez has better timing than Rios and he was also armed with the fight-specific experience of 36 rounds with Pacquiao, plus four training camps, to help prepare him to finally catch his arch nemesis.

But hey, it’s a young man’s game, Carlos. And just like Groves is for Froch, Rios is supremely confident going into the biggest fight of his career. If he wins, good for him and good for boxing. Upsets are good for the sport, and so is new blood. If Rios beats Pacquiao, we get action hero/attraction. If Groves beats Froch, we get a new British star and a fresh face to challenge Ward.

Regarding Roach, you are absolutely correct that he often gets a free pass from the boxing/sports media. This is due in part because he’s usually a very nice guy and an accommodating/thoughtful interview, but it’s also because he suffers from Parkinson’s syndrome and he’s been in the game for a long time.

If he was a younger, healthier, less accomplished trainer, there’s no doubt in my mind that he would be taken to task by the media for some of the things he’s done and said.  

Same deal with Arum. He gets a pass for a lot of his poor behavior and inappropriate public comments because he’s in his 80s and he’s one of the most accomplished boxing promoters in history.

That’s just the way it is.

I’ve been asked by a few casual fan friends of mine who saw some of the videos if I thought Roach was “racist.” I told them he’s no more a racist than Arum, Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Sr., Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, Angel Garcia and too many other notable boxing personalities to be named.

Bottom line: Boxing is not a “nice” sport. There are a lot of very classy human beings involved in the sport, but it ain’t civilized and it’s never been politically or socially “sensitive.” It’s always been divided among specific groups of people and it’s always been driven by ethnic/national/political/ideological rivalries and differences.

The curse words, racial identification, homophobic slurs, and disability insensitivity you heard during the melee in Macau is what you’ll hear every day in many boxing gyms (not all) and what you can read any time on most boxing forums and social media comments from fans. (Check out the comments underneath any YouTube video from our good friend Elie Seckbach where I’m being interviewed – I can assure you that you’ll see a lot racial/homophobic slurs directed to Yours Truly. LOL.)

For the record, I like Roach a lot and I’ve never had a problem with him. I have been asked to leave the Wild Card a couple of times for not following the interview protocol (which just amounts to giving Roach’s assistant and “gym mother” Marie Spivey advanced notice), but I’ve never been banned for anything I wrote and Roach never had anything to do with my “reprimands.” (I make sure to contact Marie, who is usually really cool, before any visit these days and I haven’t had any problems.)

 

RIOS IS PERFECT FOR PACMAN

Hey Doug,
Pacman will look good against this guy. I don’t see the big deal about Rios. This guy lost to Richard Abril and just got out boxed by Mike Alvarado. He gets hit too much he does not throw much combinations and is moving up in weight. I would pick D. Garcia, Ruslan Provo, Broner, Bradley and Matthysse to beat him.

After just seeing Ariza kick Roach I hope Pacman beats his ass!! I can see Manny beating him bad and Garcia letting it go longer than it should. – Walter

Hopefully, Garcia learned not to let a punishing fight go too long from the Margarito-Pacquiao. I think he has. He stepped in and stopped the Brian Viloria-Tyson Marquez fight to spare his fighter (Marquez) from absorbing too much damage. (I should note that Roach was in Viloria’s corner that night.)

Don’t hate on Rios just because Ariza acted like a fool during that skirmish. Bam Bam kept cool the entire time. Kudos to him for that.

You might be right that Danny Garcia, Provo, Broner, Bradley and Matthysse could all beat Rios, but that doesn’t mean Pacquiao’s  gonna walk right through the slugger. The guys you mentioned are young and none of them were KTFO in their last fight.

True, Abril should have got a decision over Rios, but that fight was at lightweight and Bam Bam drained himself trying to make 135. And while Alvarado was able to outpoint Rios in March, he took A LOT of punishment in doing so.

Rios is way more motivated for the PacMan than he was for Abril or Alvarado and he’s in much better shape.

 

FRIDAY MAILBAG

Hey Dougie,
It’s been quite a while since I last wrote, but thanks for your hard work getting your mailbags out twice a week. I bet it’s a grind but your loyal readers are thankful! My rants were a bit long-winded last time, so I’ll try and keep it short this time out….

Alex Ariza – people show their true colours when in certain high-pressure situations. Freddie showed his temper/ego and Ariza showed what a low-life moron he is. Kicking out at an older guy with Parkinsons and then mocking his disease. What a pr__k. Boxing doesn’t need guys like that, simple as.

Froch V Groves – the hype around this fight is snowballing in the UK. I’ve not seen so much written/said about an all UK match up in such a long time! I wasn’t too bothered about this match-up when it was first made and didn’t think it PPV-worthy, but it’s going to be huge on Saturday. There is no question Groves has got under Froch’s skin. I don’t think he’s been too disrespectful (at least not in an offensive manner) and it just leaves it simmering away nicely before fight night. Froch is a warrior and I like him, but I’ve always said his boxing ability is over-rated. Andre Dirrell showed the blue-print on how to beat him and if he’d been more aggressive, would have won their fight. Andre Ward out-classed him and I think Groves has more power/skill then he is given credit for. Although it wouldn’t surprise me if Froch caught and finished him in rounds 3-8, I think Groves could hit and move all night to make Froch look very average and either a points win for Groves or controversial points win for Froch is my prediction if it goes on beyond 4-5. A loss is devastating to Froch and Groves has nothing at all to lose. That’s playing on Froch’s mind in my eyes. Thoughts?

Anthony Joshua – I’m the first to get on the ‘next great British star’ bandwagon admittedly, and he’s only had 3 fights, but this guy could be amazing for British and heavyweight boxing. 6ft 6, built like a brick sh_thouse, fit, level-headed, likeable and dedicated. And he’s from my neck of the woods. Trust me Dougie, he could be something special on an international scale.

I’m out in Vegas next year for the weekend of Saturday 6th September, what fight might be made for then or what dream match-up would you wish for and fingers crossed it’s made so we can get tickets? Last time we were out there was for Calzaghe V Hopkins so let’s hope for a better scrap with more action then that!

Anyways, hope this reaches the mailbag and thanks again. – CJ, UK

Thanks for sharing CJ and thank you for the kind words about the mailbag. It is a grind but it’s worth it to have this connection with so many boxing fans from around the world. It’s very special to me.

I have no idea if a major bout will land on Sept. 6, 2014, but if one does, I confidently predict that it will be a more entertaining fight than Hopkins-Calzaghe.

Joshua certainly looks like the goods. We’ll know if he’s got “world-beater” by this time next year.

I’m looking forward to Froch-Groves more than Pacquiao-Rios. The welterweight showdown might deliver more action but I think the super middleweight matchup will be more competitive and feature a good mix of boxing, fighting, ring generalship and drama. I think Froch-Groves will also have a much liver atmosphere.

We’ll see if Groves can rise to the occasion. I still like Froch by decision.

Ariza’s got a massive ego and a hot temper, just like Roach does. Both guys let their emotions and animosity get the better of them. It happens in boxing and life. Roach was out of line the way spoke to Garcia and Ariza (as well as Leary) over-reacted in an extremely inappropriate and potentially dangerous manner.

But you know how I view it? No harm, no foul.

 

 

Photos / Chris Farina-Top Rank, Alex Livesey-Getty Images

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

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