MARTINEZ VS. COTTO: MISMATCH?
I want to throw in my quick impressions on the Martinez-Cotto fight that was just announced. I love the idea that this fight is being made. It’s intriguing, it’s interesting, it puts a well known superstar trying to achieve the impossible and it’s in NYC’s own Madison Square Garden. Martinez is also a top pound for pound fighter and will risk his title and reputation for all the money and fame.
The first thing that came to my mind after the fight was announced was this word: Mismatch. I honestly think Cotto is no match for Martinez, not even if they were both in their primes and in a fantasy weight class that would just put their natural abilities against each other. I think Martinez style will trouble this version of Cotto in ways no fighter has ever done before. I can’t envision any scenario (except if Martinez’s body implodes) where Cotto would be able to compete with the larger, faster, stronger man.
Cotto hasn’t won a significant fight since his win over a shot Antonio Margarito. He’s obviously not the same fighter he was in his prime and his performances at Jr Middleweight have always left something to be desired. I can’t see him compete at this stage of his career in the Middleweight ranks, let alone against a guy like Martinez.
I do look forward to the fight for many reasons. I would love to see Cotto defy the odds and do something nobody expects him to do. I would like to see him prove me wrong. That is why you make these kind of fights. The only fight I can remember that kind of resembles the situation of this fight is back in the 80’s when Sugar Ray Leonard came back from retirement to challenge the number one
pound for pound boxer in the world and pull one of the biggest upsets in boxing history by winning a highly controversial decision over Marvin Hagler.
Yes, Cotto is no Leonard, but he has yet to finish his legacy and this would be an opportunity to cement his position as one of the greatest Puerto Rican fighters of all time.
I’ll end my email with a fantasy fight I’ve been thinking of lately. Since this fight can’t never be made in our lifetime, I call it a fantasy matchup – Floyd Mayweather vs Tim Bradley.
I think it’s a toss-up fight. I was just reviewing the Bradley-Provodnikov fight today and realized that Tim’s style might trouble Mayweather like nobody has done before. I’ve also been analyzing Floyd’s career and since he practically never fights a fighter in his prime without putting some special conditions on him to fight him, I can’t favor him against a dog like The Desert Storm. What do you think?
Have a great weekend. – Juan Valverde, San Diego (formerly Tijuana)
I think Mayweather would be a solid 3-to-1 favorite over Bradley the moment that interesting matchup were announced but I think some members of the press would pick “Desert Storm” to pull the upset and I believe the betting odds would come down to 9-to-5 (with Floyd still the favorite) by fight week. I agree that Bradley’s cagey in-and-out, box-and-swarm style would trouble Mayweather but I think the experienced defensive specialist would figure it out by the middle rounds and take over the fight with his jab and counterpunching (what else?) down the stretch.
I’m not saying Bradley would’t win rounds – his intelligence, athleticism and will power alone make him “live” in this fight – but his brand of ring generalship isn’t as appreciated (by the media or the official judges) as Mayweather’s for some reason, which is why he had to settle for a split nod over Juan Manuel Marquez last October and a razor thin and controversial decision over Manny Pacquiao. I think all the close rounds would go to Mayweather, who would win a 116-112-type unanimous decision.
I agree with your take on Martinez-Cotto. I envision a healthy and motivated middleweight champ troubling the methodical Puerto Rican star with his speed and awkwardly mobile southpaw style over the first half of the fight before gradually heaping punishment on the naturally smaller fighter down the stretch.
I think Martinez will score a late stoppage, but I won’t be surprised if Cotto hurts him at some point during the fight. Cotto is a devastating technical puncher when he’s paired with an experienced, world-class offensive trainer, which is what Freddie Roach is. And the Caguas native will be highly motivated to make Puerto Rican boxing history inside a Madison Square Garden arena that is absolutely packed with his fans.
I think it’s going to be a sensational promotion and event, and hopefully the fight lives up to expectations. Regardless, I think Martinez and Cotto are the epitome of the word “champion.” And I give Cotto a lot of respect for joining a select group of former welterweight titleholders to challenge the middleweight champs of their eras.
GO FOR IT!
Don't give me the reasons why you can't….
Rather, why not you?
LOL. Tell ya what, I’ll think about it.
CLARIFICATION ON THE GREAT ONES
I was delighted and surprised when you put my email (“THE GREAT ONES”) online in this week’s Monday mailbag. Thank you!
I apologize for one misunderstanding – I did not write my list of greats properly, because I meant to say those are the great fighters (or in the case of Lennox Lewis, more influential fighters, since he ushered in the huge heavyweight age!) whom I personally saw in my lifetime, or saw on TV, or heard their fights on the radio. I obviously agree with you that there are vastly superior fighters from the "golden age" (20's to early 50's) who are not on that list. I only included those I personally observed or heard. (I actually saw Ray Robinson fight in person, and though it was later in his career I will always be grateful to my Dad for that experience!)
In fact, I saw 8 of my list fight in person, and the others on TV or on radio.
Certainly Willie Pep, Henry Armstrong, and Sam Langford, make any list of all time greats, and in fact, may challenge the Sugar Man for number one! I would even add Stanley Ketchel to that group, from what I know.
I gave my list some thought, and realized I had forgotten Marvin Hagler and Carlos Monzon! I have to add them. Sorry Marvelous One! (Sorry to you too Carlos, but as you are dead, you’re not reading Doug's mailbag…)
If you have the time, I love your analysis of the "what if fights," so here are a few more:
Sonny Liston at his prime against George Foreman at his, over 15;
Joe Frazier at his prime against prime Sonny Liston;
Robinson against Henry Armstrong at welterweight at both their primes;
Armstrong against Roberto Duran at lightweight, again in their primes;
Tommy Hearns at middleweight against Carlos Monzon;
Doug, thanks again for printing an old man's musings! My grandson – a fight fan – was impressed! Ha! You make my Mondays and Fridays! – John
Thanks for the very kind words, John. Tell your grandson I said hello.
I love your what-if fights (commonly referred to as “mythical matchups” here in the mailbag) because they involve Liston. I’m into any discussion of Sonny Liston.
Sonny Liston at his prime against George Foreman at his, over 15 – Liston, who Big George idolized, was too skilled for the young version of Foreman. I think Sonny beats the Houston native to the jab, wears him down with middle rounds body work and takes him out late with sharp combination punching. Foreman would get up from knockdowns and he would be game throughout but he would not match Liston’s defensive skill, ring savvy and punch accuracy.
Joe Frazier at his prime against prime Sonny Liston – Liston by middle-rounds TKO; I don’t think Frazier would get past Sonny’s jab to do any inside damage (see Smokin’ Joe’s fights with Foreman for a taste of how this one would go).
Robinson against Henry Armstrong at welterweight at both their primes – Robinson wins a close and hard-fought decision. Sugar Ray’s height, reach, speed and lateral movement would be too much for the human whirlwind to overcome.
Armstrong against Roberto Duran at lightweight, again in their primes – Duran wins a close and hard-fought decision in a great fight.
Tommy Hearns at middleweight against Carlos Monzon – Monzon outjabs the Motor City Cobra in the early rounds, survives the Hitman’s bombs on his way inside where he roughs Hearns up and wears him down to a late stoppage (if it’s a 15-round fight; Monzon wins a decision in a 12 rounder).
THE UP AND COMERS!
Long time reader, hopefully I'll make one of the mailbags. Wanted to get your thoughts on a few up and coming "prospects" and who you think has the potential to be the biggest star of the group. These prospects have a record from 1-0 all the way to 30-0.
Let’s start with Vasyl Lomanchenko (1-0). Two-time gold medalist, great amateur career, but a title shot at 1-0? I can't help but wonder if a title shot this early was put into his contract in order for him to sign with Top Rank.
Felix Verdejo (10-0). This kid looks like he has all the intangibles. Whispers of the next Felix Trinidad have already begun to circulate.
Bryant Jennings (18-0). I know Artur Szpilka isn't a top 5 guy but he is a solid opponent and I was impressed by the way Jennings fought. He showed he can fight in the pocket when Szpilka applied pressure and he showed he can box from the outside as well. IMO he deserves a title shot over some of these other HW.
Antonio Orozco (19-0). Will he get a shot at a top 10-15 guy this year? This kid can bang and he has proved it. His last 3 fights have been against very credible names. His last fight against Miguel Huerta also showed he is a little vulnerable but has a chin which makes him worth watching. Time for him to show if he is really for real.
Last one is my man Deontay Wilder (30-0) ummm with 30 KO's might I add. I absolutely love this dude. Great personality and fights like a beast! We know his next fight against Malik Scott will be his first real test in the division. If he gets past him it’s rumored that he will get the title shot at the winner of Stiverne vs Arreola fight. So I'll just ask you what you think of him and how do you think he will fair against Scott and the likes of Arreola or Stiverne if he gets that shot?
Lastly, I can't go without leaving you with some mythical matchups:
Macho Man Camacho vs Pacquiao at 140
Hagler vs GGG at 160
Chavez vs Marquez at 135
Hamed vs Ridondeaux at 126
Trinidad vs Thurman at 147
Peace and blessings as always and keep up the great work. Your mailbags help me get through my long-ass train rides every Monday and Friday morning here in NYC. – Maintain from Queens
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, M.
Reading my mailbags on the train is very high praise, right up there with the ultimate compliment (reading them on the toilet). I’m humbled.
Regarding your up-and-comers, I think Lomachenko, who beat Verdejo in the amateurs (along with every other top featherweight and lightweight in the world), has the most potential in terms of talent and skill but being a Ukrainian featherweight limits his popularity in the U.S.
I think Verdejo, being Puerto Rican, can attract a dedicated fanbase a lot quicker than Lomachenko, even if the Ukrainian southpaw wins the WBO title on March 1, because of ethnic loyalties here in the States.
However, it’s Wilder with the most upside, in my opinion, even though I think the featherweights have more talent and ability than he does. Wilder is an American heavyweight who possesses one-punch KO power, an explosive style and a bombastic personality. That’s a formula for stardom provided he can keep winning.
I’ll comment on each of your prospects:
Vasyl Lomanchenko (1-0) – It was “Hi-Tech” and his team that wanted to fight for a major world title as soon as he turned pro, not Top Rank, which generally likes to take their time in developing young talent (even amateurs as experienced as Lomachenko). The Las Vegas-based promotional company had to talk Lomachenko into waiting until his second pro bout before going for a world strap. (By the way, THE RING recognizes the World Series of Boxing bouts Lomachenko had as pro fights, so we view him as 7-0, not 1-0, but it’s still an amazing feat to take on a veteran as rugged and battle-tested as Orlando Salido for a world title with so little pro experience. Japanese junior flyweight contender/prospect Naoya Inoue also deserves a lot of credit for going for the WBC title held by Adrien Hernandez on April 6.)
Felix Verdejo (10-0) – I also like what I’ve seen from this young man. He’s got a good amateur foundation, natural talent and athleticism, good technique and power, but he’s been in with guys he’s supposed to beat, so it’s hard to really gauge what we’ve got with the 20-year-old Puerto Rican. I don’t know if he can take a hard shot or deal with non-stop pressure from a dude who can handle his power. We probably won’t find out until next year.
Bryant Jennings (18-0) – I like the same things you like about Jennings and I consider him a fringe contender. In fact, I think an argument could be made for him to be ranked in THE RING heavyweight ratings at No. 10 (where Wilder’s at) or No. 9 (where Ruslan Chagaev, who has feasted on soft opposition since losing to Alexander Povetkin in 2011, currently resides). However, I’d like to see Jennings take on a fellow fringe contender (as Wilder is by facing Scott on March 15), such as Mike Perez, Carlos Takam, Jonathan Banks or Mariusz Wach, before I rate him among the top 10 big men in the world or beat the drums for him to get a title shot.
Antonio Orozco (19-0) – I think we’ll see Orozco fight at top-15 junior welterweight by the end of this year. Right now, guys like Hank Lundy and Angelo Santana, who fight in tonight’s ShoBox main event, are too dangerous for the young man. But I think the winner of the Vernon Paris-Cleotis Pendarvis fight (who fight on a So. Cali. club show on March 21) is a reasonable step up for Orozco. If he can beat them, I’d like to see him in with a fellow young badass like Adrian Granados or a seasoned vet like Olusegun Ajose.
Deontay Wilder (30-0) – Aw yeah, the Bronze Bomber, baby! LOL. I think he’s a lot of fun to watch. However, I would not pick him to beat Stiverne or Arreola right now. If he beats Scott, who I think is live in that fight, I might change my mind. Get back to me after March 15.
Your mythical matchups:
Macho Man Camacho vs Pacquiao at 140 – I’d go with Camacho at 130 or 135 pounds – he was just as fast as Manny but a more complete and fluid boxer (with good defense and a reliable chin) – but Hector slowed down at junior welterweight and Pacquiao may have peaked at 140. PacMan via comfortable decision.
Hagler vs GGG at 160 – Hagler by decision in a good fight (I’ve done this one recently).
Chavez vs Marquez at 135 – JC Superstar by decision or late stoppage in a GREAT fight.
Hamed vs Ridondeaux at 126 – The Prince would be a threat throughout because of his awkward athletic style and one-punch KO power, but I think Rigo neutralizes en route to a unanimous stinkout.
Trinidad vs Thurman at 147 – Tito by mid-rounds KO and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had to get up from an early knockdown.
VALERO, ESTRADA, GONZALEZ
I was watching the Edwin Valero vs Vicente Mosquera, what a fight. I also read you were a big fan of his. What do you think he would've accomplished without drugs? Have you heard anything about Juan Francisco Estrada? Who do you got on a rematch Estrada vs Roman Gonzalez?
Mythical match ups
Valero vs Salvador Sanchez at super featherweight
Prime Martinez vs Roy Jones Jr
Pipino Cuevas vs Pacquiao
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, J. I’ll probably be asked this question about Valero’s wasted potential for as long as I’m involved with boxing, but that’s OK. I thought he was the truth before the Mosquera fight and I was convinced of it after their wild 2006 showdown. That fight predated social media and it was before international streams were as prevalent as they are now. Even YouTube was still new at the time. So a lot of hardcore fans and boxing media in the U.S. missed it. Once I got a video of the fight (from the WBA’s Gilberto Mendoza Jr., I think) I had it copied onto a dozen DVDs that I mailed to all of the top boxing writers and broadcasters, including Dan Rafael and Steve Farhood. True story. THAT’S how high I was on the “V-nom.”
Anyway, I thought he was going to be star, maybe even a superstar if he got a shot at Pacquiao at lightweight.
I haven’t heard anything about Estrada. He hasn’t fought since his tough title defense over Milan Melindo last July. But I know the young WBO/WBA flyweight titleholder has got an even tougher mandatory defense ahead of him – against relentless former 108-pound champ Giovani Segura (the WBO’s No. 1 contender; Gonzalez is No. 2). If Estrada gets by the hard-slugging Segura (which is possible because the young man is as skilled as he is tough) I would still strongly favor Gonzalez to beat him in a rematch.
However, it looks like Gonzalez, who is the WBC’s No. 1 flyweight contender, is lining up to face WBC/RING champ Akira Yaegashi. Chocolatito will be on Yaegashi’s stacked undercard on April 6.
Mythical match ups:
Valero vs Salvador Sanchez at super featherweight – Sanchez by unanimous decision in a good fight.
Prime Martinez vs Roy Jones Jr – Jones by mid-to-late rounds TKO
Pipino Cuevas vs Pacquiao – Pacquiao by late stoppage
As the month of February comes to a close, do you have a list of favorite black superheroes?
I can only think of a handful, like Cyborg, Power Man, Black Panther, Spawn, John Stewart's Green Lantern and of course, this guy…
Jack Kirby's Black Racer, as depicted by artist Francesco Francavilla…
Also, what are your thoughts on Lomanchenko-Salido and Crawford-Burns next weekend? Do you think Crawford has to close the show early to get out of the UK with a win? – Gopal Rao, San Francisco
Crawford definitely better bring his own judges to Glasgow if he wants to leave with the WBO lightweight title. I favor Burns by decision and I think he’ll win legitimately. And while I’m picking underdogs, I’m gonna go with Salido over Lomachenko. If he can make 126 pounds without weakening himself I believe that he’ll put too much pressure on Lomachenko over the second half of the fight and score a late stoppage.
Who are my favorite black superheroes? That is a great non-boxing question for Your Truly. Being African American, and not seeing too many heroic black faces on TV during the 1970s, I was naturally attracted to comic book characters who were black when I was a kid.
Marvel’s Luke Cage, AKA Power Man, was the first I noticed and bought off the “Hey Kids, Comics!” racks at supermarkets. Next was Storm of the “All-New, All-Different” X-Men and the Black Panther (who are African, not African-American, but the what the heck, they had black skin, so they stood out – as did Nightcrawler, my all-time fave, who’s skin was blue, but that’s neither here nor there). I also liked The Falcon, Captain America’s sidekick during the ‘70s.
I had a special attraction to Brother Voodoo, another black Bronze Age (1970s) character, because the mystical master hailed from Haiti and I have Haitian ancestry on my mother’s side of the family (the African-American side) as well as an uncle who practiced the West African/Haitian religion in New Orleans (still does). Here's a piece of Brother Voodoo's debut in Strange Tales No. 169 (with art by the great John Romita Sr.):
I also gravitated to Black Vulcan, a periodic character of the Saturday morning cartoon show The All-New Super Friends Hour (and basically a TV substitute of the African-American comic book hero Black Lightning).
In the early ‘80s, I liked Cyborg and I discovered the early 1970s version of John Stewart (created by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams) through reprints of the Green Lantern/Green Arrow classics.
By the late ‘80s, I was pulled away from comic book collecting by the lure of boxing. I was a hardcore boxing nut by the early ‘90s and completely ignored comic books, so Spawn is a character that I’ve never explored.
But when I gradually got back into comic books in the mid-2000s thanks to (the X-Men and the Hellboy movie franchises), I rediscovered Jack Kirby’s New Gods epic (which I’m still currently collecting) and the Black Racer quickly became one of my favorite Fourth World characters along with the iconic Darkseid, Metron and Orion.
Thanks for allowing me to geek out.
Email Fischer at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer