BOXING IS ALIVE
I’m big fan of the “mailbag” and an even bigger boxing fan. I have been meaning to write and maybe because of hanging out with family over the Super Bowl weekend has motivated me a bit. Yes, I get frustrated about fights not getting made but I am still grateful for the fights that are made. Growing up in a family that loved boxing (Italian in Central New York) I can’t help but get excited over big fights. With that being said, so many of my best memories in life are tied to boxing. My best friend (Brian), who was like a brother to me and who sadly took his own life, in my mind is alive so to speak because of boxing. One of the best fights I have ever seen is the Mickey Ward-Emanuel Burton fight; they went balls to the wall just because. When I think of that fight I have great memories of watching it with my friend and the whole “oh my f___ing god” aspect of it; in my head he is alive again, smiling… happy.
Instead of bitching and complaining about the sport, people need to think about how a sport without a central governing body still for the most part gets things done and at the end of the day it is just that… a sport…. to be celebrated , to be cheered, to be remembered, and for that small window to be alive.
I hope you are well. – Joshua
I am well, Joshua, and thanks to your beautiful email I’m feeling even better.
You are absolutely correct. For all the big “mega-fights” that don’t get made there are about 100 other fights – of various levels – that ARE made every year which kick ass and thoroughly entertain and captivate us.
And every now and then we get treated to transcending slugfests like Ward-Burton or Gatti-Ward I or Corrales-Castillo II or Vazquez-Marquez III; or brilliant boxing clinics like Jones-Toney I or Barrera-Hamed or Hopkins-Trinidad; or shocking KO upsets like Mayorga-Forrest I or Tarver-Jones II or Gonzalez-Mares; or competitive elite-level boxing matches like Toney-McCallum I, De La Hoya-Mosley I or Marquez-Barrera.
And if we’re REALLY lucky, we get to watch these gems with good friends; people we love and appreciate while they’re alive and who we never forget once they’re gone.
This is my first time writing you, so I hope I make the cut. Throughout my years as a teenager, I developed a love for boxing, but my interest for the sport faded away after a couple of years. The last 3 years or so, my passion for boxing has re-emerged, and I enjoy both following the boxing scene of today, and diggin' through the great history of boxing (I just watched the "No Mas" documentary, and loved the whole mystery about the second fight, and the intensity of the first fight!).
I wanted to give a shoutout to you, and thank you for sharing your knowledge and love for the sport, which is one of the reasons why I now rate boxing in my top 3 of favorite sports.
Moving on to my question, which is in the boxing-technique category: I have seen a lot of fights these past years, and there is one aspect of the fighting game, which both interests and puzzles me at the same time. It's the technique behind counter-boxing. So if you had to put it down in words, and give your definition of counter-boxing, what would it be? I get the point – that a counter-boxer waits for the other guy to throw a punch, and then quickly fires one back – but what would you say, makes a great counter-boxer? Patience? The ability to foresee the other guys punches/movement? Speed? etc.?
And also, do you see counter-boxing as a feat that is driven by instinct/reflexes or well measured/thought out moves?
I will leave you, with some mythical matchups:
Ricky Hatton (in the same shape, as when he beat Kostya Tszyu) vs Danny Garcia at 140.
Bernard Hopkins (in his reign as middleweight champ) vs GGG
Joe Calzaghe vs Andre Ward
Roberto Durán vs The Desert Storm at 147
Take care Doug, and keep up the good work! – Emil, Denmark
The answer to your question about what makes a boxer a counterpunching specialist is all of the above. Counterpunching requires patience, measured thought-out moves, instincts and reflexes. Speed helps, but isn’t necessary.
The most important aspect of counterpunching is intelligence and an understanding of boxing and how different styles mesh. You basically said this when you wrote: “The ability to foresee the other guy’s punches/movement.”
In order to do that one must be smart and know what to expect from particular styles and ring personalities.
If you look at all the best active counterpunchers in the game – Floyd Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez, Andre Ward, Tim Bradley, Mikey Garcia, Bernard Hopkins – they all have one thing in common: They’re smart! They are very clear thinkers in and out of the ring.
Good mythical matchups:
Ricky Hatton (in the same shape, as when he beat Kostya Tszyu) vs Danny Garcia at 140 – Hatton by close, bloody hard-fought decision or late TKO
Bernard Hopkins (in his reign as middleweight champ) vs GGG – Hopkins by close decision in what becomes a grueling fight down the down the stretch
Joe Calzaghe vs Andre Ward – Calzaghe by close unanimous, maybe majority or split, decision in a fast-paced chess match
Roberto Durán vs The Desert Storm at 147 – Duran by unanimous decision or late TKO in a fight that’s competitive in spots
FUTURE OF THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION
I hope you and your family had a good Christmas and New Year.
Although you have probably been asked this before, my question surrounds the heavyweight division as it currently stands.
Based on the current state of the weight class, which is slowly but surely becoming more competitive (in my opinion), how do you see the division shaping up over the next 3-5 years? And who do you believe will replace Wlad Klitschko as the division’s premier fighter?
Despite varied opinions of them, I've always been a fan of the Klitschko brothers – but I'm actually quite excited about the future of the division and like many others think a crop of new names is well over due.
After watching Anthony Joshua win his 4th fight this weekend, it got me wondering which contenders will step up over the next few years and stake their claim as champions. In the UK we have already seen one Olympic super-heavyweight champion fail to make the grade in the pro division after promising so much, in Audley Harrison – so with this in mind it is with a certain air of caution that I and no doubt many others will only view Joshua as the real deal when he beats a contender of note – convincingly.
Other names that come to mind are Tyson Fury, his cousin Hughie, Bryant Jennings, Deontay Wilder, Bermane Stiverne, who is not a youngster so to speak – and I'm even gonna throw Mike Perez into that mix.
So to put you on the spot, which fighters do you see ruling the division a few years from now?
All the best mate. – Mike, Warrington, UK
I don’t see an absolute ruler – the way Wladimir is right now – ascending to the heavyweight “throne” once both Klitschkos have retired for good. I think there will be a group of veterans who collect the four major belts.
There’s already an informal box-off of Vitali’s vacated WBC belt. Stiverne and Chris Arreola are supposed to wage a rematch for it sometime in April or May; and the winner of that bout will have to face the winner of the Wilder-Malik Scott fight on March 15. Whoever winds up holding that green belt is obviously going to be a major player in the division.
Other players include unbeaten Kubrat Pulev, once-beaten Alexander Povetkin, the winner of the Fury-Dereck Chisora rematch that’s supposed to take place later this year (both fight on the same card on Feb. 15), the winner of the Tomasz Adamek-Vyacheslav Glazkov fight on March 15, the winner of the Odlanier Solis-Tony Thompson fight on March 22, and undefeated American Bryant Jennings if he can beat someone like Perez, Carlos Takam, Andy Ruiz or a top-15 contender.
I think we’ll have a much clearer idea of who the leaders of the pack will be by this fall.
THE DEMOLISHER VS. TBA
Thanks for getting back to me on Monday. Loved your reply man! Anyhow I'm just gonna follow up on that little conversation.
Apparently when I referred GGG's previous opponents as the Bambis to Golovkin's Godzilla, some fans got a kick out of it while others embarked on a major bitchathon over the whole thing. Oh brother. OK allow me to explain myself. I'm not stating that Golovkin's opponents are a bunch of Bambi-types. I'm just stating that “The Demolisher” makes them look that way because he's so damn good and so f__kin' strong. The fact that the badass duo of James Kirkland and Anne Wolf wants to steer clear from the guy says it all. I'm telling ya Doug, sometimes I think I should drink myself into a stupor before writing to this mailbag just so I can actually sound coherent to some of these guys and vice-versa.
As for our good buddy, The Demolisher, I kind of feel frustrated for the guy. Especially with the way all the other top guys are avoiding him like he's the Black Death personified. And maybe we can call him the fistic version of that. Either that or the modern Charlie Burley. In other words a world champion without a genuine title or any available contenders.
On a plus note you had strong point when you mentioned that Bryan Vera would probably be all too happy to challenge GGG if he can get by Chavez Junior. And you want to know something. Even if Vera loses again and it's another close one (which I'm sure it will be) he'll still be ballsy enough to do it.
Same with a similar tough bastard named Robert Stieglitz regardless of what happens in his rubber match with Arthur Abraham. Speaking of which, I really wonder why they're having that third fight. When they last met Stieglitz literally battered Artie into submission and left him looking like a mangled lump of meat. Golovkin might as well grant rematches to some of his victims like Adama and Macklin while we're at it. Am I missing something here?
OK that's all I wanted to say. I'll be back to you when The Golovkin Show continues in April. Wonder who'll be the brave and lucky co-star to step up and get his ass kicked? I'll see you then! – Triple T
It’s looking like it will be Andy Lee, God Bless the Irish veteran. If it is, I will drink nothing but Guinness at Jimmy’s Corner and toast to Lee’s bravery before and after the fight.
The Stieglitz-Abraham rubbermatch is taking place for two reasons: 1. It will do strong business and TV ratings in Germany, and 2. Abraham has got a warrior’s pride. He wants one more shot at glory. God Bless him, too.
If Stieglitz wins again, I think Team GGG will target him, but my guess is that the WBO beltholder will look for lucrative showdowns against the likes of Mikkel Kessler, George Groves or James DeGale (if the Olympic gold medalist decides not to go for the WBC title).
I’m OK with Golovkin facing Vera, but if the tough Texan is coming off a loss to Chavez Jr. our guy GGG will get ripped by Twitter Nation.
But beggars can’t be choosy. I think Golovkin’s next two bouts will have to be against fringe contenders. He might lure a legit top-10 rated contender – such as former IBF beltholder Daniel Geale – into the ring for his fourth bout of the year.
And if Golovkin does get a top 10 middleweight this year, I don’t expect him to get any credit from his critics for beating that contender.
But I don’t care what a few boobs on Twitter have to say about Golovkin. I love watching The Demolisher do his thing. And don’t feel too sorry for him. GGG is being paid well for his work, which is one key reason I wouldn’t compare him to Burley.
PERFECT OPPONENT FOR GOLOVKIN
Since you don't seem to think the GGG will be able to nail down a meaningful middleweight fight this year, what do you think of a potential matchup between him and Andre Dirrell (if anyone can claim the reward on the back of the milk carton and find him). Golovkin wouldn't be big at super middle by any means so before going straight to the Carl Froch and Andre Wards of the world, wouldn't it make sense to test the waters at 168 against a fighter who isn't super strong or aggressive and has shown an aptitude for mental lapses? The only problem I see with the matchup is that if Dirrell could maintain focus for 12 and keep to a game plan which would include a lot of lateral movement and fighting in spots. I would favor Direll to win a competitive decision depending on the judges. What are your thoughts on the way that matchup would play out?
Are there any updates on Paul Williams? He was one of my favorite fighters and I was wondering if his condition has improved.
Are there any names being mentioned as opponents for Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Devon Alexander, and Erislandy Lara? Lara, Thurman, and Porter should strike while the iron is hot and not squelch their momentum. Alexander better get back in the ring before he's completely forgotten.
One last question: how would a mythical matchup between Andre Ward and James Toney at 168 play out. Thanks. – Frank Luback, Brooklyn
As much as I love Toney, I think Ward would be able to eke out a close decision due to his hand speed, footwork and versatility. Toney was a beast at 160 and 168 but he performed at his best against aggressive come-forward fighters, not crafty and athletic boxers.
Porter, Thurman and Lara do not have fights scheduled at the moment, but all three are in position for significant fights this year. Porter’s IBF mandatory, Kell Brook, is a big fight in the UK. And like Thurman, the Ohioan, is a prime candidate for the winner of Maidana-Broner II (no, I don’t believe that Mayweather was ever really considering the Argentine slugger for May 3) and Danny Garcia whenever the junior welterweight champ decides to move up to the 147-pound division. Lara wants Mayweather like everyone else, but he could get the winner of Alvarez-Angulo, which ain’t a bad consolation prize. I think Alexander’s best move is to push for a rematch with Porter.
Williams is doing well, according to his former trainer and manager George Peterson. Read this update from our own Lem Satterfield. We’re going to try to reach Williams for an exclusive interview and maybe a Best I’ve Faced features, so be on the lookout for that.
I think Dirrell would be an excellent fight for Golovkin (given their 2004 Olympic history – GGG edged him out in the 165-pound semifinals) and a real test for the undefeated Kazakh at super middleweight. He's mentioned Golovkin as a potential opponent in more than a few interviews.
I agree that Dirrell’s height, reach, mobility, unorthodox switch-hitting style and uncanny speed and reflexes would trouble Golovkin. However, they fought twice in the amateurs, so GGG knows what to expect from Dirrell, and he’s used to sparring with tall and rangy boxers in the gym. But the undefeated middleweight beltholder’s biggest advantage is his activity.
Dirrell has only fought twice since his disqualification victory over Arthur Abraham in March of 2010. I thought Dirrell looked very sharp during the first half of the bout but Abraham gradually began to close the gap and stress him out going into the late rounds. Abraham looked like he was coming on very strong in the 11th before he blatantly fouled Dirrell while the American was down.
Abraham was a strong, durable puncher, but not nearly as advanced as Golovkin, who works a jab, counterpunches and can cut the ring off on a moving opponent. I think GGG can corner and stop Dirrell in the late rounds of a competitive fight without pulling the rough stuff that Abe resorted to.
I was really glad to read that the Mandingo warrior priced himself out (once again!) for a Golovkin slot this time. Also glad to read that Ann Wolfe does not want that fight for him. His team needs to make sure that:
1. he stays at junior middleweight. Glen Tapia looked way bigger than him during the fight!
2. he never fights Golovkin
It would be over in 1 round or 2 because Kirkland fights only one way: going forward while taking some shots. It would be a massacre!! They were almost labeling Glen Tapia as the new “Arturo Gatti” because of his charisma and fighting style but there is only one Gatti. However there should be a new “Kirkland” label coming out. I hope he really has evolved into a more mature guy and can stay out of trouble because Curtis Jackson got a fighter with an incredible story and the perfect style to just keep gaining new fans. A Latino version of Kirkland at the same weight (Golden Boy promoted of course) would be in line to become a massive B-side for Canelo. I will not go into what fights Kirkland should go into but there are many options (the Charlo brothers included) and regardless of whom he fights I will keep watching.
Kirkland and Golovkin are both must-see fighters for different reasons: GGG because of his power, technique, poise and ability to cut off the ring; The Mandingo warrior because of his aggression, crazy work rate, heavy hands and vulnerability.
What they share is the fact that once they have smelled blood they will rip you wide open for the world to see and go back to their corner with a sense of satisfaction knowing that their mission is achieved. My only wish is for them not to face each other… Also I know I am asking a lot but Kirkland vs Curtis Stevens should not happen either!! Peace. – V.
I agree with you. Golovkin and Stevens are too big, too skilled and too hard-punching for Kirkland. If he can safely make 154 pounds he owes it to himself to campaign at junior middleweight. If I was managing his career, I’d try to maneuver him to a shot at WBO titleholder Demetrius Andrade. I don’t think Andrade is an easy mark because the young man is very talented and skillful but, like Tapia, the 2008 Olympian has never experienced the kind of relentless pressure and hard volume punching that Kirkland brings to the ring. And unlike GGG and Stevens, the lanky 25-year-old southpaw doesn’t have the brute physical strength and world-class power to keep Kirkland off of him.
I also agree that Kirkland and GGG are must-see fighters. I’m glad Kirkland was added to Golovkin’s April 26 card in NYC. I’m looking forward to that show.
GGG & MMH
Wanted to share a thing with you and see what you think.
Both Hagler and Golovkin slip punches in the same way. They have comparable footwork. And that’s pretty strange because Hagler was a southpaw (but he could fight orthodox as well). And they also have various ways to block or parry a punch. And boy can both throw power. Difference being that Golovkin may pack a little more power but Hagler threw way more combos.
What do you think? Maybe Gennady takes a punch like Hagler? Regards. – Bart Plaatje, Groningen, the Netherlands
Golovkin takes a good shot. He proved that in the Stevens fight. If GGG can take a punch like Hagler, who had one of the best beards of all time, he’s going to be very hard to beat.
I think there are a lot of similarities between the prime Hagler and Golovkin. In terms of style, they are both methodical stalking technicians who can cut the ring off or take a back step if need be. Both also block and parry well, as you noted. In terms of athleticism, both are very strong and durable with world-class power. And in terms of skill and conditioning, both are accurate and economical punchers with good timing and stamina.
It remains to be seen if Golovkin’s will is as strong as Hagler’s was.
You might be right about Golovkin having slightly heavier hands, but Hagler was a bit quicker with crisper combos and better head and upper-body movement. Hagler also used feints more.
Email Fischer at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer