MIKKEL KESSLER & LUCAS MATTHYSSE
Dougie my man, hope you're well.
I was surprised to see Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler II was never mentioned as a candidate for Fight of the Year – it was certainly my favourite. Right, my three favourite fighters are Kessler, Lucas Matthysse and Ricky Burns; obviously we know what Ricky's plans are, but I was wondering if you have any inside knowledge concerning the next moves for “the Viking Warrior” and “The Machine.”
For what it's worth, Tim Bradley is my tip for Fighter of the Year 2013; I don't see how people could choose Floyd Mayweather over him, when Tim clearly faced the tougher competition in Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez. Anyway, keep well, Doug. All best. – James, London
Thanks James. Those year-end awards can be as subjective as the mythical pound-for-pound rankings, especially when the field is as crowded and accomplished as it was for 2013 Fighter of the Year honors.
My personal pick was Adonis Stevenson, but I think Bradley and Sergey Kovalev were just as worthy as the reigning RING light heavyweight champ. Cases could be made for Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins and even flyweight champ Akira Yaegashi. You’ll have to wait until the March edition of THE RING to find out the magazine’s official choice for Fighter of the Year.
I’ll say this about Bradley, it was an honor covering both of his fights last year. He gave us blood and guts during his war with Provodnikov and he boxed brilliantly (but not safety first) against Marquez. I think he’s in position for a big 2014 (especially if he gets the Pacquiao rematch).
I have no idea what Kessler’s plans are, but I would imagine that a rubber match with Froch is something he and his promoter are seriously considering. I know everyone is still butt hurt over the quick stoppage in the George Groves fight and “demand” that The Cobra face the Londoner before anyone else, but I would gladly tune in to Froch-Kessler III. Those two just mesh to make good 12-round fights.
Don’t be surprised that Froch-Kessler II was overlooked as a Fight of the Year candidate. Last year featured so many terrific fights that some were bound to slip through the cracks. I thought Takashi Miura-Sergio Thompson and Erislandy Lara-Alfredo Angulo deserved at least an “honorable mention” on everyone’s Fight of Year candidate lists, but most fans and media skipped those bouts in favor of higher profile fights.
Matthysse says he’ll be back in the ring in April or May. I’m looking forward to his return and hope he fights three times this year as he did in 2013. If Dierry Jean beats Lamont Peterson this Saturday, I think a Jean-Matthysse matchup could be interesting.
As for your boy, “the Rickster,” his mandatory title defense against Terence Crawford and the recently made Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo fight are the two bouts that I want to see the most in the first quarter of 2014.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD?
I just wanted to hear your opinion on the following topic.
Traditionally (especially back in the 80's and beforehand) most major boxing stars and globally considered Pound for Pound Champions were American, with the exception of a few Hispanic fighters here and there such as Carlos Monzon and Roberto Duran (please forgive me if I forgot to mention a few, I am not the best boxing historian).
Then in the 90's we got guys like Julio Cesar Chavez and Kostya Tszyu.
Today, it seems to me as if we are seeing more and more boxing elites from all over the world, more than ever before.
I am wondering if this is merely due to modern globalization and the possibility that great boxers have always existed all over, especially in places like Russia and the former Soviet Union along with, of course, Argentina, Mexico, the Philippines, etc. And now these parts of the world are being untapped for boxing elites like never before.
Or are other countries simply catching up when it comes to coaching, proper technique and other training practices?
To me it appears as though the best combinations are among great international fighters – especially now with the apparent influx of Russian and Eastern European fighters – with great American trainers, examples include Marcos Maidana with Robert Garcia, Ruslan Provodnikov with Freddy Roach, Sergey Kovalev with John David Jackson and GGG with Abel Sanchez.
Also, I wonder, will we soon be seeing a changing of the guard when it comes to global boxing supremacy? Will the top three pound for pound (according to The Ring) fighters, who are all American, eventually be replaced by international stars?
I tell you Dougie, some of these guys, especially the Russians and those of neighboring countries, are pretty scary, and if they're given the proper tools by way of the proper trainers, I can see these guys taking over.
I think there's a really good chance Andre Ward will eventually be forced to take on GGG and/or Kovalev, and there's a good chance one of them will dethrone him (my bet would be Kovalev if he continues to improve under John David Jackson), possibly in brutal fashion.
Timothy Bradley is one hell of a fighter, but we saw him nearly fly out of the ring against Provo, even though Bradley won that fight (lucky for him today there are only 12 rounds and not 15), and everyone expected Maidana, the "rugged" South American, to get outclassed by the slick, young, undefeated, athletic and extremely confident Adrien Broner, and we all saw what happened there.
And I know it's way too early to tell, but I recently saw this one kid from the Ukraine, something Lomachenko, who looked beyond impressive to me in his pro debut, forgive me for forgetting the first name and even the bout, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.
I just wonder what the future will bring, and if America's traditional boxing supremacy is bound to crumble or at least take second stage in place of foreign beasts like the ones just mentioned. What's your take? – Rob from Longwood, FL, USA
Lomachenko’s first name is Vasyl. I have a feeling you and many other boxing fans will become very familiar with him by the end of 2014. Who knows? The Ukrainian amateur star might “pull a Rigo” and crack the Pound for Pound before he’s got a dozen pro bouts under his belt.
I don’t think America’s presence among elite boxers will ever “crumble,” but I do believe that U.S. fighters will have to get used to sharing the pound-for-pound rankings with fighters from all around the globe, and they’ll also have to be ready for stern head-to-head challenges from foreign boxers within their respective weight classes.
I wouldn’t be shocked if non-American boxers occupied the pound-for-pound top three by the end of 2015.
A non-American dominated P4P list is nothing new. At the end of 2010, only two American boxers – No. 2 Mayweather and No. 9 Bradley – were among THE RING’s Pound for Pound top 10. Everyone else on the list – Pacquiao, Sergio Martinez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Nonito Donaire, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Fernando Montiel, Wladimir Klitschko and Juan Manuel Lopez – were born outside of the continental U.S.
At the end of 2008, the year of Mayweather’s hiatus from the sport, only ONE American was in THE RING’s mythical rankings – No. 4 Bernard Hopkins, who was behind Pacquiao, Marquez and Joe Calzaghe. All of the other Pound-for-Pound rated fighters at that time were either born in Mexico or Puerto Rico.
Right now we’ve got a bunch of talented and determined fighters from South America, Cuba, Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the mix.
These areas of the world have always produced talented fighters, but we’re seeing more of them in the rankings for two reasons:
1) Many – especially the amateur standouts, such as Guillermo Rigondeaux, Erislandy Lara and Golovkin – have come to the U.S. and have improved upon their professional styles by hooking up with noted American trainers, and
2) More are fighting on U.S. television, thereby becoming better known to the boxing media and fans who compile Pound for Pound lists.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think my man GGG would be cracking the mythical rankings if he wasn’t fighting on HBO and in the U.S. If were fighting the same level of opposition in Germany, off HBO, I think he’d still be under the radar, like my little brother from another mother, Roman Gonzalez.
Trust me, if HBO or Showtime featured “Chocolatito” in against a top-rated flyweight, you would suddenly see his name pop up on a lot of people’s P4P lists.
Anyway, don’t count American fighters out. Ward is poised to take over Mayweather’s No. 1 spot whenever Floyd finally walks away from the sport, and there isn’t anyone out there that I would make a solid favorite to beat the Bay Area boxing master. And there are some young guns out there, such as Danny Garcia, who look ready to break into the mythical rankings soon.
However, as good as he is, Ward is just one boxer – and a single punch from Golovkin, Adonis Stevenson or Kovalev could end his decades long unbeaten streak. And though Garcia always finds a way to win, I’m not sure I’d pick him to beat Ruslan Provodnikov.
Just 20 years ago it was inconceivable that anyone but Americans could dominate the heavyweight division. European heavyweights were the biggest jokes in boxing. Now American heavyweights are the joke. Things change.
HELLO FROM COLOMBIA
What do you think of Eleider Alvarez and Tommy Oosthuizen? The South African was not very good against Brandon Gonzales (I also think the draw was a gift).
What do you think about Jhonatan “Momo” Romero who has decided to let his coach ("Professor" Pineda) to join Floyd Mayweather Sr.? You think Momo can have a chance to give battles in a strong and deep division?
Know anything about Pier Olivier Cote? Is he injured or retired? That kid is talented right?
Stick to the track runs, your 2013/2014 resolutions are working! – Paolo Vega, Barranquilla, Colombia
I will, Paolo, Coach Schwartz will see to that. It’s great to hear from a fan from Barranquilla, the hometown of one of my favorite Southern Cali.-based fighters during the 1990s – Jorge Eliecer Julio, the former two-time bantamweight titleholder who used to mix in at least one hour of Colombian-style salsa dancing with his two-hour shadow boxing warm up at the old L.A. Boxing Club.
All I’ve heard about Cote is that he’s been suffering from some kind of illness, like a chronic fatigue. For the past year and half he would start a camp for a scheduled fight but have pull out because he couldn’t keep up with his training. He wasn’t able to recuperate from one workout to the next.
It sounds serious. I experienced something like that when I had an undiagnosed hyper thyroid for about half a year. I doubt that’s Cote’s trouble because there’s rapid weight loss with hyperthyroidism, which usually tips off doctors to the disorder.
Whatever it is, I hope Quebec-based Colombian gets healthy and is able to resume his career (if that’s what he wants to do). The junior welterweight and welterweight divisions are hot right now and an explosive, two-fisted puncher like Cote would be a welcome participant once he advanced past prospect status.
I think Romero will do well under the Mayweather boxing system. Unlike Joseph Agbeko, Romero is a talented stylist who has very good defensive ability. I was surprised that he lost to Kiko Martinez last year, but when an experienced veteran starts as fast and presses as hard as the determined Argentine did, even a superior boxer like “Momo” can be overwhelmed.
I thought Romero fought a valiant fight against Kiko. Even though he lost, he showed me that he’s got balls to go with his skills.
I think Floyd Sr. will add to Romero’s defense, finesse and overall conditioning; while Roger will enhance his offense in terms of power and volume.
Regarding Alvarez, I’m sure by now you know that “Tommy Gun” pulled out of their fight with a motorcycle accident story that his own promoter wasn’t buying. Had that matchup – which was supposed to be part of HBO’s broadcast – not been cancelled, I would have favored the 13-0 Colombian by hard-fought decision.
I think “Storm” will definitely defeat his late replacement, unbeaten (10-0) Andrew Gardiner, probably by knockout. If he wins, I hope he can get a more experienced opponent for his next scheduled bout (set for March 28) and eventually face a bona-fide contender this year.
WALK-INS, MAYWEATHER-CANELO SCORECARD
I saw where you sort of apologized to Toby from the UK in last Friday’s mailbag for your “really bad” Mayweather-Canelo scorecard. Dude, you have nothing to apologize for. I re-watched that fight again today, and it was even more competitive than I first thought. The only rounds that were clearly Mayweather rounds were 1, 7 and 11, IMO. Sorry to all the other pundits and Monday morning quarterbacks, but it just was not a “beatdown” or “master class” by Mayweather. I still think he won, but a lot of those rounds could’ve easily been scored for Canelo. Anyway, sorry for beating a dead horse.
I wanted to ask you about your favorite ring entrances or fighters with the best ring walks. One of my favorites was Felix Trinidad for the Fernando Vargas fight. He walked to the ring smiling and high-fiving his fans – very confident and definitely enjoying the moment. A person probably couldn’t go wrong with most of Mike Tyson’s fights, but by far the best ring walk I’ve seen was Ricky Hatton for his fight with Kostya Tszyu. Between the burning blue moon, Hatton getting all hyped and the crowd being possibly the loudest I’ve heard, it’s enough to give a person goose bumps. What do you think? Do any other ring walks stand out in your mind? – John in K-Town
I’ve never been one to get into ring walks. There’s no denying that a professional boxer’s ring entrance – especially those of popular championship-level combatants – can be “goose bump”-producing experience, but generally speaking, once the fight starts I forget all about it.
So I don’t have any favorite ring entrances, but I must agree with you that Tyson’s ring walks were special. Iron Mike’s late-1980s entrances without music and those to Public Enemy (especially the song “Welcome to the Terrordome,” which he walked out to more than a few times) stand out in my mind.
The most memorable ring walk during my tenure as a boxing writer has to be Trinidad’s entrance for his WBA middleweight title challenge against poor William Joppy at Madison Square Garden in May of 2001. It was the loudest, most emotionally charged ring entrance I’ve ever witnessed. The Puerto Rican fans, who had been dancing and drumming and celebrating Tito’s arrival throughout the undercard, literally exploded once “the man” finally entered the arena. The entire Garden, which was packed, went crazy. Even members of the Puerto Rican media on press row jumped out of their seats and started screaming, knocking laptops and entire tables to the floor in the process.
The noise and adulation was so intense I was almost overwhelmed. I’m serious. I felt like I was going to pass out. I was still kind of new to covering the sport, so I didn’t know if the atmosphere we were experiencing was unique. I turned around in my seat and locked eyes with two great elder statesmen among fight scribes, the now dearly departed Budd Schulberg and Bert Sugar, as if to say “is this for real?”
Both Hall of Famers, who looked almost as awed as I was, nodded as if to say “This is real and it doesn’t happen very often. Soak it up.” I did.
Regarding the Mayweather-Alvarez scoring, I agree that the fight wasn’t the shutout or master class that most of the media and TMTA made it out to be, and it certainly wasn’t a “beating” of any kind. The kid did as well as a young boxer could without actually trying to make a fight of it. I thought Mayweather was careful and respectful throughout the fight. As I said in previous mailbags, there were two more rounds I could have scored for Mayweather and at least two rounds that could have been scored even (though 10-10 rounds are frowned upon in the U.S.), rounds where neither boxer did much.
TOP 10 HEAVYWEIGHTS MAILBAG
I just read your Friday mailbag and saw one of the letters referred to a top ten heavyweight list you made on the previous mailbag (he expressed surprise that you ranked Evander Holyfield above Lennox Lewis) but try as I might, I can't seem to locate your Monday mailbag from Jan 6th. Any chance you can send me a link to it? Best. – Simon from Barcelona
Unfortunately, I cannot send you a link that Monday mailbag. Why? Because it no longer exists! LOL. It was a casualty of the massive content migration from our old RingTV.com website to the redesigned version of the site that was launched this past Tuesday. (How do you like it?) However, I'm happy to reprint the portion of the email asking about Mike Tyson’s place among all-time great heavyweights and my reply that contained my top 10 list for you (straight from my personal archives!):
Also where do you rank Tyson in your all time heavyweights? Tyson's image over here is that he is somewhat the greatest heavy after Ali!!! When I try to explain to them that Lewis destroyed him and that Vitali would have done the same, they have fits as if I know nothing! So keen to know your views because when you consider Frazier, Foreman, Holmes, etc. he definitely wouldn't make my top 7. Arguably top 10. So what would your top10 be?
Anyway mate, hope you've had a great start to the year and hopefully my first mail makes the mailbag! Regards. – Rehan (London)
You made the cut. Thanks for the kind words, Rehan (and for the harsh ones directed at my detractors).
Tyson doesn’t make my all-time heavyweight top-10, which is comprised of: Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Jack Johnson, Larry Holmes, Rocky Marciano, George Foreman, Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Joe Frazier and Evander Holyfield.
That doesn’t mean I think Tyson sucks. He was awesome. A lot of excellent former heavyweight champs don’t make my top 10, including Jack Dempsey, Sonny Liston, Lennox Lewis and Ken Norton.
Photo / Al Bello-Getty Images