BATTLE OF THE BEASTS
Hey Dougie, what’s up?
How would each bomber fare against Andre Ward? When Ward eventually moves up, the 175-pound division is going to be SICK. What do you think of a Super Six style tournament with Stevenson, Ward, Kovalev, Lucian Bute, Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins, Beibut Shumenov and Chad Dawson. I know Hopkins won’t fight on HBO, but hypothetically, who wins that?
Boxing match names that sound like comic book battles sometimes turn out to be dramatic, even classic scraps.
Are you old enough to remember “Stone vs. Sugar” (Roberto Duran vs. Ray Leonard II) or “SuperFight” (Marvin Hagler vs. Leonard) or “Steel vs. Stone” (Iran Barkley vs. Duran) or “Thunder and Lighting” (Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor)? (The “Thunder and Lightning” title has been used with other fights — most notably and recently for the Arturo Gatti-Floyd Mayweather PPV event — but Chavez-Taylor I was by far the most historically significant bout with this comic bookish title.)
I’d love to see a light heavyweight Super Six tournament. What hardcore fan wouldn’t? You mentioned eight fighters, so let’s drop Dawson since he’s been KO’d in his last two bouts (against two of the tournament participants) and let’s get rid of Shumenov because he kinda sucks. It would be incredible if Ward took part in another round robin of the best fighters in a particular division, and I’d either make him or Kovalev the favorite to win a 175-pound tourney. Stevenson and “the Immortal B-Hop” would be the dark horses, in my opinion (which you should take with a grain of salt – I thought Arthur Abraham would win the super middleweight Super Six).
I think Kovalev would fare better than Stevenson against Ward because the Russian closes the distance well and he throws better combinations than the Canadian star. Stevenson would be a dangerous foe for Ward, but he likes to operate from a distance and relies a bit too much on his left hand, so he would give the super middleweight champ more room to operate and more time to think and dissect his style than “The Krusher” would.
Who do I favor in the hopefully imminent Stevenson-Kovalev showdown? Well, like most observers, I made Krusher a solid favorite over Superman immediately after their respective performances, but a day removed from the HBO broadcast has me looking to give the potential matchup more perspective.
I know Stevenson looked vulnerable the few times Tony Bellew punched back (as he did a few times when he fought Don George last year) and I know Kovalev looked unstoppable smashing poor Ismayl Sillakh into the fetal position. However, we need to keep in mind that Stevenson was in with a more-battle tested pro who had a better chin than the comparably fragile Ukrainian talent.
I still view Stevenson-Kovalev as an even fight, though if I have to pick a favorite I’ll go with the Russian.
And, by the way, I don’t think the promoters or the networks (mainly HBO) will let this potentially explosive matchup “over marinate.” The fight might not happen next year, but I think it will definitely take place before the end of 2015.
EURO TRASH & HBO’S OVERSELL
HBO commentators, Max Kellerman and Jim LAmpley, were like a hooker and a handjob. They need to stop overselling the fight between Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev. Stevenson was correct by calling out the war-torn Carl Froch but I think Bernard Hopkins would clearly school him still to this day in time…. Hopkins lateral movement would be too much for him.
Kovalev needs to fight a top-10 known contender… my suggestion is that HBO offer him a fight with Andre Ward and then the winner would fight Adonis Stevenson for the unified championship.
Ward needs to move up to LHW. There are no other opponents at SMW outside of Chavez Jr. Your thoughts? – T. Jack from Finland
Many fans agree that Ward has run out of opposition in the 168-pound division but S.O.G. and his trainer, Virgil Hunter, have never been ones to rush their own agenda due to public (or media) pressure. They made the move from 160 pounds to super middleweight when it made sense to them, and they stepped up the level of Dre’s competition when THEY were ready – not when the networks, promoters, the media or the fans wanted it. And, obviously, they knew what they were doing. Ward is the undefeated, undisputed champ at 168 pounds.
Ward is going to move to light heavyweight when HE’S ready do so, and he told the media that he was a year away from the jump after dominating Edwin Rodriguez last month.
So you can forget about HBO getting Ward into the ring with Kovalev any time soon. By the way, Kovalev defeated two top-10 rated light heavyweights this year – former titleholder Gabriel Campillo and current beltholder Nathan Cleverly – by knockout, of course.
I’m sure Kovalev (and his promoter, Kathy Duva) would love to fight Ward and then Stevenson but the truth is that nobody is lining up to get into the ring with the Russian crusher.
You are correct that Sillakh was unknown outside of the hardcore boxing community. But the bottom line is that he was willing to step into the fire with Kovalev. A lot of ranked guys aren’t (and even less are going to be willing to do so after watching what happened on Saturday).
I can’t diss Kellerman or Lampley for “overselling” or “hyping” Sillakh because I was driving the Southern Cali.-based Ukrainian’s bandwagon before he was derailed by Denis Grachev last year. And despite that stoppage, I still thought he had a bright future. The young man is a marvelous talent. He’s got everything but a good chin. Sadly, that’s an important attribute in the hurt business.
I also can’t knock HBO for building up a Stevenson-Kovalev matchup. I can’t think of a better matchup in the 175-pound division. It beats Stevenson-Hopkins or Stevenson-Froch in my humble opinion.
ADONIS WANTS NO PART OF KOVALEV
I’m tired of fighters calling out smaller opponents or the older guys. I get it, there is money in some of those fights, but Bhop callin out Floyd Mayweather and now Stevenson preferring Froch (over Kovalev) is upsetting. The best fight the best. Had Dawson not given Adonis a shot we wouldn’t even be talking about this guy right now. You can’t tell me there was more money facing Tarvoris Cloud and Bellew than a Kovalev fight.
With that said, I believe Stevenson is looking to cash out and will avoid Kovalev at all cost. Adonis doesn’t fight smart. Hands down begging to be KO’d. Kovalev catches him with a right if he tries that mess. Both fighters looked great on Saturday, but Kovalev just looked more ready for that fight IMO. I hope it happens! Peace. – DJ from the Bay!
You are not alone in your opinion that Kovalev can beat Stevenson, and that Stevenson wants to avoid Kovalev and high-profile fighters should stop playing it safe by calling out smaller or older opponents.
Good point about Dawson giving Stevenson a shot at the light heavyweight title, but “Superman” was going to receive his shot at glory sooner or later as the No. 1 contender for Froch’s IBF super middleweight belt (the status he held at the start of this year).
I agree that Stevenson is looking to make money before he faces a fellow monster like Kovalev but I’m not ready to say that he’s “avoiding” the Russian beltholder. Stevenson just stepped up to the 175-pound division in June (when he iced Dawson). He’s been a busy champ, defending his RING and WBC belts twice against Cloud and Bellew, but he still been a light heavyweight for less than a year. You know he’s the champ and I know he’s the champ, but how many others know about “Superman”?
He’s still making his name outside of the Quebec province, just like Kovalev is still making his name outside of hardcore fan circles. Their showdown will be a much bigger fight if they each make at least one more title defense before going at it.
Stevenson’s defenses vs. Cloud and Bellew (which was his WBC mandatory) didn’t pay him as much as a Kovalev fight would have, but right now showdowns with Froch, Hopkins and the Pascal-Bute winner would.
I don’t have a problem with Stevenson aiming at one of those three before attempting to prove who’s the best banger at 175 vs. Kovalev.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS, WELTERWEIGHT TOURNEY
I have two big key takeaways from this weekend’s light heavyweight bouts. 1) Kovalev is much better than I thought, and 2) Stevenson is not nearly as good as I originally believed.
Kovalev faced a skillful fighter with a decent game plan and figured out quickly how to get inside and do the damage necessary to end the bout early. Stevenson, on the other hand, struggled. I don’t think Bellew is a bad fighter but he should not have survived as long as he did. He had very little output to act as a deterrent, and his punches came from the arm and were very slow. I was surprised to see Stevenson get tagged as often as he did given the sparse volume.
I can’t imagine Stevenson having a chance in Hell against Kovalev (which is why he probably continues to downplay the chances of such a bout anytime soon). Additionally, I couldn’t envision him defeating the fighters he mentioned post-bout: Froch or Hopkins. If Bellew could time him fairly well, what about a defensively sound and crafty Hopkins?
Lastly on a side note and from a previous email… if you could assemble a Super Six round robin, composed of current fighters from Jr. Welterweight and Welterweight divisions, to start in January, who would you select to participate and who would you expect to come out on top? You can exclude Mayweather if you like. – Vincent, New York, NY
With Golden Boy Promotions signing up most of the talent at 140 and 147 pounds, we’re almost getting unofficial tournaments in both weight classes (Danny Garcia-Amir Khan, Marcos Maidana-Devon Alexander, Robert Guerrero-Andre Berto, Garcia-Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse-Lamont Peterson, Garcia-Matthysse, Mayweather-Guerrero, Maidana-Jesus Soto Karass, Maidana-Josesito Lopez, Adrien Broner-Paul Malignaggi, Berto-Soto Karass, and the upcoming Judah-Malignaggi, Thurman-Soto Karass, and Broner-Maidana fights).
If I had the power to assemble a 140-147-pound Super Six field, I would just add Top Rank’s best junior welterweight/welters to the mix: Manny Pacquiao, Tim Bradley, and Juan Manuel Marquez and match them with Golden Boy’s elite: Mayweather, Garcia and Broner (if the Problem Porn Star looks good against Maidana). That tournament would be huge for the sport, especially if Floyd and Manny met in the finals.
However, it would be a lot of fun to do a “Savage Six” tournament involving the best 140-147-pound brawlers, punchers and pressure fighters: Ruslan Provodnikov, Matthysse, Brandon Rios, Maidana, Mike Alvarado and either Thurman-Soto Karass winner or Luis Carlos Abregu.
Anyway, back to reality and the light heavyweights. There’s no doubt that Froch and Hopkins would give Stevenson more trouble than Bellew, but that doesn’t mean the Haitian-Canadian wouldn’t prevail. If Groves and clip and hurt Froch, so can Stevenson. If Pascal can put Hopkins down twice, Stevenson can likely keep the old man down if he connects cleanly.
I think Stevenson has the best chance of beating Kovalev of any other light heavyweight – he just has to be sure to strike first. Bellew didn’t understand that. Although the Brit was the taller man and a capable boxer, he needed to get inside Stevenson’s reach and outwork the bigger hitter while forcing him back on his heels. All that lateral movement was just delaying the inevitable.
True, Sillakh is a skillful fighter who had a decent gameplan but he wasn’t even delaying the inevitable because he let his hands go often and his chin couldn’t deal with Kovalev’s power at all. I think Bellew would have taken Kovalev more rounds because of his skittish ways and better chin and I think Stevenson would have stopped Sillakh earlier than he did the Brit because of the Ukrainian’s willingness to trade and his weak beard.
I think it’s OK for fans to rate Kovalev slightly above Stevenson in their minds, or to have the opinion that the Russian would beat THE RING champ, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to completely judge either fighter based on Saturday’s fights.
KIRKLAND VS. TAPIA
I was hoping I could get your insights on the Glen Tapia vs James Kirkland fight on Dec. 7. Who do you favor and why? Also, have you gotten any information from their respective camps regarding how the fighters are looking? All the best. – Kelvin
To be honest, Kelvin, I forgot this matchup was even taking place this Saturday. Some fights slip under the radar at times and this was one of them for me.
Having said that, now that you’ve reminded me about the fight, I’m again looking forward to what is a classic crossroads bout between veteran and up-and-comer.
Tapia is the younger, fresher and bigger fighter. Kirkland is the older, shorter, harder-punching fighter who has WAY more mileage on his odometer. However, the southpaw slugger is probably more battle tested than “battle worn.”
When this fight was first announced I slightly favored the “Jersey Boy” because of his activity (four fights this year while Kirkland hasn’t fought since last March), however, with news of Kirkland reuniting with Ann Wolfe last month, I swung over to the crazy Texan.
Kirkland is going to have a lot of ring rust, but Wolfe will have him 100-percent shape, which will enable Kirkland to put more pressure and power on Tapia than the 20-0 prospect has ever experienced.
Kirkland – who has hit the deck in the first round against Alfredo Angulo, Nobuhiro Ishida (three times en route to a TKO loss) and Allen Conyers – will be vulnerable in the early rounds of the bout, but if he survives and knocks of the rust, I think he’ll pound Tapia to a late stoppage or decision victory.
I think Kirkland’s conditioning, determination and experience against world-class opposition will see him through any rough patches Tapia creates.