Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Friday mailbag

WHO WINS SATRUDAY?

Big D:

I love your mailbag on Mondays. Keep up the good work. 

Who do you think will be the boxer of the year? I have to say it is between Money May and Superman.  I know you do not like Money – by the way he is my favorite – he does have a respectable chance. 

Also, who do you have for all this weekend’s action on HBO and Showtime? Cannot wait. It is great to be a boxing fan, especially this year. Thanks for reading. Hope to hear from you soon. – Denise, State of CT 

Likewise, Denise. 

I think Paul Malignaggi will edge Zab Judah on the scorecards by outworking the more dynamic but sporadic fellow Brooklyn vet. 

I think Austin Trout will do the same thing to his savvier but less active fellow southpaw Erislandy Lara. 

I think Anthony Dirrell boxes his way to an early lead and survives some late rocky moments against the battle-tested Sakio Bika to earn the WBC 168-pound title by majority or split decision.  

I like Guillermo Rigondeaux to keep his RING 122-pound title via a close but unanimous decision in a tougher-than-expected fight with Joseph Agbeko.  

I think James Kirkland will get up from a hard early knockdown, rage back and stop game Glen Tapia late in the fight of the night.

My pick for Fighter of the Year is Adonis Stevenson, but I think Floyd Mayweather is clearly a top candidate for that honor and has a good chance of winning it. If Edgar Sosa upsets Akira Yaegashi for THE RING/WBC flyweight title today, I think he’s worthy, too. It’s a crowded field this year. Other worthy candidates include Tim Bradley, Rigondeaux (if he beats Agbeko), Danny Garcia, Bernard Hopkins, Sergey Kovalev, Gennady Golovkin, and Yaegashi (if he beats Sosa).

 

THIS IS WHAT FANS WANT

Qué pasa Duglas?

This is an exciting weekend indeed, bad ass Krzystof Wlodarczyk is fighting – all Polish fighters are close to my heart – and then we have that amazing Brooklyn fight night. I am happy to see that now promoters are making a bigger effort to put more big names on the same card. I believe that it has something to do with the UFC impact on the fight business. This MMA league has proven that stacked cards are beneficial for their sport. I am really happy to see that there are several top ranked fighters going at it on the same night this weekend in a single boxing event.

A few questions:

Prediction on Lara vs Trout – Damn this is an interesting one, love these two styles, Lara’s left should lead the way. I say he will stop Trout in the late rounds.

How high ranked is Kirkland in the “I suck at decision making” list of boxing?

How exited are you about Adrien Broner vs Marcos “El Chino” Maidana?  

About boxers coming from former Soviet countries, is it me or there are a gang of Russians, Polish, you name it, beating people up in the rings these days more than ever? Do you see them becoming real recognized players in the future? The “Euro Mexicans” maybe?

How is Jesus Soto Karas looking to you for his fight against Keith Thurman? I love his long range body attack, he does his job at being a gate keeper, but do you believe he will avoid Thurman putting a beating on him? Peace! – Eduardo El Polaco, Gdansk, Poland

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Eduardo.

No, I don’t think Soto Karass will avoid taking punishment from The Thurmanator, but I know that he’s in shape and very motivated for this fight, so he’ll be able to take it and dish out some of his own. I watched Soto Karass spar eight quality rounds with two athletic and scrappy sparring partners – Ahmad Cheikho and Andrew Andrew Stafford – and the Mexican veteran looked sharp and smart. I was told that Soto Karass sparred with big and heavy handed Wale Omotoso sparred for five weeks and went to war on even terms, so my guess is that the betting underdog is used to trading power punches.

If Thurman gets greedy or makes any stupid mistakes against my favorite gate keeper, he will pay for it. I’m high on Thurman so I like my fellow long-haired Halfrican by decision or late stoppage but I think Soto Karass will make it a competitive and entertaining fight. If JSK pulls off the upset, he has hands-down earned Comeback of the Year honors.

The Euro Mexican? Yeah, they’re making some noise this year. Look at the “Russian Mexican” Evgeny Gradovich’s rise from unknown prospect to IBF featherweight titleholder. Your boy Wlodarczyk reminded the world that he’s a top curiserweight beltholder with his slugfest TKO of unbeaten Rakim Chakhkiev. Your other boy Andrzej Fonfara – who is action on the Wlodarczyk-Fragomeni card – beat his second former titleholder (Gabriel Campillo) on ESPN. Krusher Kovalev and GGG fought four times each, scored four stoppages, and were featured on HBO two-three times. There are many others but you know who they are.

Let’s see if they can keep the momentum going in 2014 by facing better competition than they took on in 2013.

I’m super excited about Broner-Maidana and that entire card in San Antonio, which co-features the Thurman-Soto Karass and one of my favorite young titleholders, Leo Santa Cruz. I’m going to be working Showtime’s international broadcast with veteran Dave Bontempo so I’ll be as close to the action as one can get without risking a punch to the face. I can’t wait.

How high ranked is Kirkland in the “I suck at decision making” list of boxing? Dude, Chuck Giampa tells me “Mandingo” is pound-for-pound in that category.

I see a lot of folks going with Lara over Trout. I get it. He’s the accomplished Cuban amateur with undeniable athleticism and ring poise. He can also crack with that left hand, as you noted. However, there’s something missing from Lara that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s his lack of a stiff jab or his inability to fight on the inside. But something prevents him from elevating from contender to “elite” boxer.

I thought Lara was lucky to get the draw against Carlos Molina. I was not impressed with his effort against Vanes Martirosyan. And I was surprised – no, make that shocked – that he went life and death with Alfredo Angulo, who I considered shopworn and tailor-made for the savvy lefty.

I know Lara’s got a lot of the T-word – talent – but Trout also has that, plus the other T-word – tenacity. I think the New Mexico resident is going to gut out a hard-earned decision.

I’m also loving these stacked boxing shows, such as the Golden Boy/Showtime cards in Brooklyn and San Antonio, and I agree that the UFC “upped the ante” in terms of combat sports undercards so to speak in the 2000s. Boxing had to invest more in its co-features and undercards to compete. I think we’ve done OK in recent years and especially well this year.

 

KIRKLAND &SNOOP DOGG

Whenever I think of Kirkland I think of that Snoop Dogg song “When the P*mp’s in the house better drop it like its hot, drop it like its hot” … Get this, the first time I heard this song I was in LA riding down Sunset Blvd on vacation and it was crazy!

However, we can literally say that about Adonis Stevenson, he should use that as his ring entrance when he put’s his “p*mp” hand down on Sergey Kovalev. Seriously, that would be CRAZY if he used that as his ring entrance!!!!!!!! – JCB

My guess is that Stevenson wants to separate himself from his criminal past as much as possible, but I admit that a part of me would be impressed by such a blatantly un-PC ring walk to a high-profile showdown.

I wouldn’t be rooting for Superman if he did it, but I’d have to give it him for not giving a f___. But like I said, I do think Stevenson cares about his image and doesn’t want anyone to think of him as a pimp or a street thug.

 

KOVALEV OVERRATED

Hey man,

You are DEAD wrong about Kovalev, just like you were about Arthur Abraham. Same type of fighter they both are. Andre Ward would handle Kovalev with EASE and Stevenson EASIER. Stevenson is right to avoid Kovalev and go after Carl Froch and Hopkins for the big money…but I don’t think either man bites. After all Hopkins is after a Mayweather fight and Froch has unfinished business with George Groves.

Anyway, I heard that Gennady Golovkin KO’d Kovalev with a body shot in a sparring session at Abel Sanchez’ gym in Big Bear about a year ago.

I agree with you that James Kirkland is a BEAST with Ann Wolfe in his corner, he’ll pummel Tapia into submission like he did Angulo. Hopefully Tapia’s corner will step in and stop it before it’s too late. Without Wolf Kirkland is average at best. Wolfe’s brutal – bordering on inhumane – training methods will get James through this fight. Hopefully Kirkland’s shoulder labrum is fully healed. 

Broner will BEAT Maidana easily. Broner/Bradley would be a great matchup. – Robert

I agree that the porn star will beat Maidana. I’m not so sure about “easily.” A Bradley-Broner matchup would be interesting. I’m not sure it would deliver fireworks but I think it would be competitive with momentum swings. I like Timmy in that once based on his speed, footwork, activity and experience.

Wolfe definitely brings out the best in Kirkland but she can’t put life into his legs if he’s burnt himself out and let’s face it, the Texas Tornado has a burn-out style. He fights hard, spars harder and trains like a maniac. With all his tough fights, camps, injuries and inactivity, he could be an “old” 29. We’ll see. I think he beat Tapia but I won’t be shocked if the young man hurts him early and take him out.

So you think Kovalev is a bum, eh? OK. I beg to differ, but time will tell. I don’t see how you see the Russian and King Arthur being similar fighters. Apart from being strong and coming forward, they are opposites. Abraham covered up like an armadillo. Kovalev is punching machine – one with some sharp artificial intelligence. He’s not a brawler. He’s an aggressive technician with KO power in both hands.

No way Ward beats Kovalev easy, I don’t care what GGG may or may not have done to him in a sparring session.

Anyway, what exactly am I “dead wrong” about? I don’t recall announcing that Kovalev was the best light heavyweight boxer-puncher since Bob Foster.

 

WHEN WILL PEOPLE LEARN

Doug seems like most people would have learned by now, but they havent. I remember not too long ago everyone was saying Lucas Matthysse was this killer, Garcia showed YALL how a smart BOXER with power treats a guy who DONT KNOW HOW TO BOX. Rigo/Donaire etc. Now GGG, and most recently Kovalev. In most cases a good boxer with power, boxing a guy who cant box with only power the boxer with skills and power wins. I dont care for Kovalev, or Stevenson, but from what I see and seen Adonis can adjust and is very crafty. Kovalev only knows 1 way, and that is to come forward throw punches. From what I see in both after the 3rd rd it will be a blow out for Stevenson until Stevenson knocks Kovalev out in the later rds. The Rabbit isnt concerned about the Fox because the Rabbit knows that he is smarter than the Fox. – Alfie

If you think GGG, Kovalev, Donaire and Matthysse CAN’T box, you’re wrong. They wouldn’t be at the world-class level if they didn’t have any skill or technique or ring smarts to go with their punching power. Golovkin wouldn’t have been a world amateur champion or an Olympic silver medalist if he couldn’t box at all. Kovalev would have been exposed by Gabe Campillo, and maybe even Nathan Clverly, if he had no skills. Donaire wouldn’t be a three-division champ if there was no ring generalship to his game. If Matthnysse had no craft he would’ve been embarrassed by Devon Alexander (instead robbed); he would have been KO’d by Zab Judah (instead of dropping a razor-thin split decision); he wouldn’t have iced Lamont Peterson.

I agree that Stevenson has a good shot at beating Kovalev because of his versatility, but the Russian has proven the ability to cut the ring off on faster, mobile opponents, and finish them once he has hurt them. Maybe Stevenson earns respect with his own punching power, but maybe Kovalev’s fists are kryptonite for Superman.

We’ll find out when they fight.

 

STEVENSON’S PAST

Hey Doug,

Don’t know whether the drama around Stevenson’s past made its way south?  One week before the fight the local national newspaper had Stevenson’s past as a gang member, pimp and prisoner on the front page. The story made the rounds of all media and really got under his skin. After the fight he said he would leave the province.

I just point this out as I thought Stevenson looked unfocused and he was not his normal ebullient self (although even totally focused I would still pick Kovalev to beat him).

Also, I don’t know if you saw the David Lemieux fight? Against limited opposition he is quite impressive. Seven knockdowns! He throws every single punch like a homicidal maniac. And each punch whistles through the air. How come some fighters get that sound?

The first 4 rounds of Bizier vs Jo Jo Dan where highly entertaining. – Stephen, Montreal

So I heard (about Bizier-Dan) via Twitter. I’ll have to find a copy of that fight.

Lemieux is a born puncher. Simple as that. The young man (still only 24) has won six in a row – against guys he was supposed to beat – since losing to Joachim Alcine in 2011. He’s got 33 bouts. I’d like to see him in with a live body again. It’s time. Maybe J’Leon Love, if the Mayweather Promotions middleweight prospect wins his super middleweight bout against Lajuan Simon tonight on ShoBox. If Lemieux can prove himself against someone like that I think he’d make for a fun fight against WBO titleholder Peter Quillin.

I didn’t know Stevenson was dragged through his sordid past but the Quebec media prior to the Bellew fight. I’m sure it was tough for him to deal with but it comes with the territory.

If he leaves Quebec, I think it might be good for his career to relocate to the Detroit area where he can be around his trainer Javon “Sugar” Hill fulltime. He holds most of his camps there, anyway.

 

VIEW FROM QUEBEC

Hey Doug,

Long time, first time.

I felt the need to write in following the various reactions I’ve read about last weekend’s light heavyweight fights on HBO. I admit that the USA is the biggest market for boxing but it’s important to keep in mind that there are other markets with their own dramas, story lines and rivalries. HBO has the money and the reach so the Kovalev-Stevenson fight they are pushing for rises to the top in fans’ minds. However, I’d like to fill your readers in on what’s going on in Quebec (mostly in the French media so I excuse anyone for not being aware of it).

After his KO over Bellew, Stevenson mentioned Hopkins and Froch as opponents in the near future. Why? Is he afraid of Kovalev? Let’s see, Hopkins fought twice in Quebec against one of the top hometown stars, Pascal, and left a big impression. B-Hop did a great job selling the fights and put on an age defying performance in the second fight. One thing about Quebec boxing fans is that they tend to adopt fighters who come in and put on great shows, win or lose. After the near KO of Bute, Andrade became an honorary Quebecois for a while, training and fighting out of Montreal. So Bernard is well liked and there’s a revenge story line to it as well. Look, I don’t want to see him fight Hopkins (I don’t want to see anyone vs. Hopkins) but there is some logic to it.

Froch was mentioned because of his victories over Bute and Pascal. Everyone in Quebec knows Carl, respects him, but wants to see him go down for the count. It’s an obvious match-up and a poll on the local sports channel showed, by a wide margin, that Froch-Stevenson is the fight people most want to see. And honestly, how could it not be a good fight? Stevenson started 2013 as a super middleweight so to act like there’s a huge size discrepancy is silly.

Yvon Michel of Gym (Stevenson’s promoter) said in an interview that Hopkins is at the top of the list but the GBP-HBO nonsense will make it hard to realize. He all but ruled out Froch saying he should be tied up with a Groves rematch. He talked about the biggest potential fight, against the winner of Bute-Pascal, but pointed out that they have a rematch clause so a fight with Adonis in 2014 is unlikely. That leaves Kovalev as the fight easiest to make. He, just like Stevenson, said that if the money is right, the fight will happen. It’s the fight most likely to end with the belt leaving Quebec so I understand that they think it should be worth it.

One last thing, Stevenson’s criminal past was being rehashed in gory detail in the media during the week leading up to the fight. Stevenson did some terrible things when he was a young man and he paid for them. He has never hid any of it and has said that he wants only to be a better person and to not be that which he once was. As far as a former criminal turning his life around, Stevenson would appear to be a perfect example so I can understand that he was extremely upset that it was being unearthed, for no apparent reason, again prior to a big fight. This definitely affected his performance, but to his credit he got his head together after a few rounds and took care of Bellew like a champ. I don’t remember hearing any of this on HBO.

He was still upset after the fight and said he was thinking of leaving Quebec for good and that he felt the attention on his past, which he feels he has atoned for, is motivated by racism. Serious stuff.

Sorry, this is so long but I felt you were only getting half the story. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t fight Kovalev next (look, if he fights four times again in 2014, I’m sure he’ll get to The Krusher) but Quebec has a lot of boxing fans, many of whom only follow the local guys, and therefore see things a little differently than Max Kellerman. Hell, they don’t even know who Max Kellerman is. Until last Saturday, they didn’t know who Kovalev was, either. If Stevenson doesn’t immediately fight who HBO says he should, doesn’t mean he’s scared. 

Superman is not scared. – David, Kobe, Japan (via Montreal, Quebec)

I agree, David. And thanks for finally writing in with your well-worded thoughts.

I don’t think Stevenson is “scared” of Kovalev. I think he wants to go for the bigger names in hopes of making the biggest events, and I agree that showdowns with B-Hop and The Cobra would be huge fights in Montreal or Quebec City. So would a fight with the Pascal-Bute winner.

Having said that, if Stevenson is so disgusted with his media treatment in Quebec maybe he should take his show and light heavyweight championship on the road and fight in some major American markets. Montreal isn’t too far from New York City, which has a significant Russian population. I’m not saying the fight has to take place asap, because I think Kovalev could use a little more TV exposure, but Superman vs. Krusher could probably sell very well at Madison Square Garden (I’m talking about the big room) by the end of 2014.

 

 

Email Fischer at dougie@boxingmailbag.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer

 

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