Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Friday mailbag

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IS ADONIS STEVENSON RUNNING SCARED?

Dougie,

My second time writing but just my first time getting posted on the site (wink, wink). Anyway, after hearing about Adonis Stevenson signing with Showtime, one has to wonder if he is using it as an excuse to avoid Sergey Kovalev. I understand that first and foremost, professional boxing is a business and Showtime probably made Stevenson a great offer while HBO dragged its feet, but it seems very convenient for him. Let's face it, “the Superman” can probably beat any light heavy out there not named Kovalev. And not that the match between the two would have been inevitable; Kovalev could lose to Cedric Agnew (doubtful) and Stevenson could get dropped by Andrzej Fonfara (also doubtful, but less so IMO). But with Stevenson at Showtime, he doesn't have to leave that question up to fate. However you analyze, one thing is for sure – it stinks for the fans. So without having to use your mind reading abilities, do you think Stevenson is maybe letting out a big sigh of relief?

On to my next point, which I will make succinctly. I have great respect for Bernard Hopkins. For someone his age to be at the top of his game is nothing short of wondrous; he's a walking testament to clean, healthy living (minus the part about getting hit in the head), but can we all agree that his fights suck. BORING. So here's hoping that Beibut Shumenov takes him out, either by KO or a clear decision. Go on, Bernard, and right off into the sunset. You're healthy, wealthy, a clear first round Hall-of-Famer and possibly one of the greatest of all time, but I think I speak for most other fight fans when I say we don't want to watch any of you fights anymore. Peace out Dougie. – HinesHammer

I’m sure you are speaking for a lot of fans (me included) with your opinion on “The Immortal B-Hop” (that’s my nickname for him and I want credit for it!), but you don’t speak for all fans.

Believe it or not, Hopkins has his diehard followers (I get emails from a few of ‘em), as evidenced by his TV ratings last year. Hopkins-Tavoris Cloud attracted 1.2 million viewers on HBO. Hopkins-Karo Murat drew 1 million viewers on Showtime. More than 12,000 fans packed Barclays Center in Brooklyn to watch the “old man” school Cloud. You gotta admit, that’s pretty good.

Of course, he only drew around 6,000 to Atlantic City for the Murat fight, but that ain’t half bad considering his dance partner. I’m gonna guess that he’ll sell more tickets than that for the Shumenov fight in Washington, D.C. “The Shumenator” (my nickname for him! Don’t steal it!) is better known and more respected than Murat (which I know ain’t saying much) and the D.C. area has a lot of hardcore boxing fans.

Regarding Stevenson going to Showtime for the Fonfara fight, I think it definitely means he’s aiming for the Hopkins-Shumenov winner for his first unification bout and not Kovalev, but is this move really a big shock to anyone?

Just because HBO wanted a Stevenson-Kovalev showdown doesn’t mean Stevenson was looking forward to that fight. And just because HBO, Kovalev’s promoter (Kathy Duva), and Stevenson’s promoter (Yvon Michel) agreed to the showdown in principle doesn’t mean the fight was a done deal.

Most hardcore fans were skeptical of how eager Stevenson was to fight Kovalev given his post-fight comments after the two co-headlined an HBO-televised card from Quebec City last November. Stevenson looked formidable breaking down Tony Bellew to a sixth-round stoppage in the main event, but Kovalev was downright frightening in the rapid manner in which he crushed poor Ismayl Sillakh into a quivering fetal position on the canvas before the end of the second round.

Stevenson wanted to talk about taking a vacation after discussing the Bellew fight with Max Kellerman. When Kellerman brought up Kovalev, it’s not like Stevenson said “Bring it on,” or “Yes, that’s the fight the boxing world wants to see and I know I can beat Kovalev.” Stevenson’s reply was “I don’t have a problem as long as HBO puts the money (up)… but, the fans of Quebec City, you want Carl Froch or Bernard Hopkins?”

Stevenson basically made his intentions clear in that interview. He was saying that Kovalev makes sense as long as it makes money (presumably a lot of it), but he would rather fight Froch or Hopkins. If he’s able to make better money fighting Fonfara on Showtime than he would on HBO, he’s going to do that. If going to Showtime makes a showdown with B-Hop more of a possibility, he’s going to do that. And if signing with Al Haymon and fighting on Showtime allows him to put off a very dangerous encounter with Kovalev for another year or so – or maybe avoid the fight altogether – you better believe he’s going to do that.

I’m not giving Stevenson a pass for not fighting Kovalev. I just get where he’s coming from. He’s a 36-year-old former super middleweight contender who hit the jackpot last year when he got a shot at Chad Dawson and made the most of it by shattering the light heavyweight champ’s already cracked chin. He defended his title twice against solid dudes, got THE RING’s Fighter of the Year award, and now he’d like to make some good money in 2014. Showtime’s going to allow him to do that without him having to risk his neck against a fellow monster. Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza is right when he says that most world-class boxers have a limited time period to make really good money and should take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way.

However, Duva is absolutely correct when she says so-called elite boxers who don’t fight the most dangerous fighters in their divisions cannot and should not be compared to the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, Roberto Duran and all the other modern greats, let alone the all-timers.

Stevenson is THE RING’s light heavyweight champ and I recognize him as “the man” at 175 pounds. However, Kovalev is the consensus No. 1 contender. If the Russian badass continues to win fights over the next year or so and Stevenson never faces him, it will be a strike against the Haitian-Canadian’s legacy in my book.

 

MYTHICAL MATCHUPS AND REAL FIGHTS

Doug E. ,

Enjoyed your last bag. Had mixed thoughts on your myth-matches, though. You certainly hit it on the nail when you said that Vitali Klitchko would have taken down Riddick Bowe and that Johnny Tapia would have outscored Israel Vasquez in a thriller. Same with Hector Camacho giving Ricky Hatton a boxing lesson. And why do fans keep involving Hatton in these myth-matches? The guy sucked.

Wasn't sure about JMM beating Alexis Arguello but I strongly disagreed with you stating that Donald Curry would have kayoed De Layoya. Curry was no Ray Leonard and Oscar had one of the toughest chins in the game. You saw all the dudes he kept fighting. Maybe Curry would have outpointed Oscar but there was no way he could have KOd the Golden Dude.

And Paul Williams over Saul Alvarez???? C'mon guy! We all know that P-Will was little more than some chinny, overrated, defense-challenged slapper who bled a lot and looked like a Stretch Armstrong version of Flavor Flav. And we know what a sharp puncher Canelo is. He would have had P-Will all busted up like Erislandy Lara and Maravilla did.

OK now let's talk about the fights we will be seeing. Starting with Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley. If Pac-Man goes for that knockout that he's promising then he wins it. But he has to go for that gusto! Sure The Pac got screwed by the judges last time but he also screwed himself up by easing off when he had a guy with busted wheels in front of him. If it happens again Pac would have no one to blame but himself. And to be honest with you I think Pac will indeed go for it this time. He might be getting older and worn out but I think he'll make the supreme effort and unload one last Pac-attack. And that means that Timmy will go down and stay down this time.

Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto? My heart says to pick Cotto but common sense says to bet on Maravilla. One question. Who's up for the winner? Alvarez? Kirkland?

And then there's the Froch-Groves rematch. This fight might be overshadowed by the other two but might still be the best one coming up. I don't even know if Froch was going to finish off Groves the last time or if Groves would have regained the upper-hand. Hopefully, we don't get another squeamish ref this time pulling the plug on us again.

By the way you cracked me up a few bags ago when you called that one ref a spaz and had some of those Face-dudes griping about it. F-bombs and vulgar insults are OK. Racial slurs and homo-phobic remarks? No big deal. But calling someone a spaz? Dude, that is so uncool! Anyhow I'm blasting off. May The Gods be with you! – Captain Ron

Thanks Cap. I can’t recall for sure but I think the “Face-dude” who left that comment said that in Britain, the term “spaz” is a slur used for people who suffered from a certain type of neurological disorder. I had no idea. Anyway, yeah, the internet community is both hypersensitive and extremely insensitive.

Here’s how I see Froch-Groves II. If Groves boxes carefully from a distance, he’ll probably win an uneventful decision. If the young challenger tries to make a fight of it, he’ll help make for a hell of a scrap but he’ll also get worn down to a legit late stoppage.

I also view Cotto as a “heart pick” in the Martinez fight, but so many knowledgeable friends of mine are betting on the Puerto Rican star it makes me wonder if I should consider him legit favorite. These guys I know don’t bet with their emotions. Still, I like "Maravilla" in this one. If he wins, I think we could see a Golovkin showdown, maybe Kirkland. If Cotto wins, I think a mega fight vs. Canelo makes the most sense.

I agree that Pacquiao has to go for it in this rematch with Bradley if he wants to win it without help from the judges. If he fights the same way he did against Brandon Rios, I think Bradley will outhustle and outpoint him fairly easily.

In that Williams-Alvarez mythical matchup, I’m not talking about the shopworn, post-Martinez version of P-Will. Had his scheduled fight with Canelo taken place in September 2012, I would have picked the redhead to win. (I think I was the only boxing writer to pick Lara to beat Williams.) I’m talking about the prime version of Williams, who proved to have very solid whiskers to go along with his non-stop punching and movement.

Regarding my mythical matchup pick of Curry over De La Hoya (by stoppage), again, I’m talking about the prime version of “the Lone Star Cobra” – the ultra-precise technician that ruled the division in 1984 and ’85. No disrespect to De La Hoya, who was an underrated welterweight, one who faced Pernell Whitaker (in his 147-pound debut) and prime, unbeaten versions of Ike Quartey, Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley. Ya gotta respect that. But the fact of the matter is that he lost to Sugar Shane and Tito and the Quartey fight could have gone either way. (To be fair to the “Golden Dude,” so could the Trinidad fight.)

However, nobody he fought at 147 had the blend of size, speed, power, patience, accuracy and technique that Curry had. As good as De La Hoya was at 147, I think Curry – who twice outpointed future champ Marlon Starling, chopped up tough contender Colin Jones and KO’d unbeaten beltholder Milton McCrory – was a little more talented, a little more poised, a lot sharper, offensively, and probably a harder puncher. Curry’s jab was just as good as Oscar’s but he was a better counter puncher.

I think you can easily make a case for Arguello beating Marquez at 135 pounds. I think Arguello was arguably the greatest 130-pound fighter ever and he was also a hell of a lightweight. But I’m sticking with my mythical pick of Marquez via close decision.

To understand why, please review the first 12 rounds of Arguello’s featherweight title-winning fight against the aging but legendary Ruben Olivares, his upset decision loss to spoiler Vilomar Fernandez, the first 10 rounds of his junior lightweight title defense against skilled contender Ruben Castillo, and his narrow points victory over future lightweight titleholder Jose Luis Ramirez.

 

QUICK QUESTION

Doug – a quick one:

“However, suffering a quickie KO to Maidana will squash anyone’s argument that Mayweather is the G.O.A.T., just like getting iced in two rounds by Antonio Tarver squashed that nonsense from Roy Jones Jr.’s fanatics 10 years ago.”

I read this comment as meaning that a KO loss would shut up fans who have short memories – not that such a loss should radically cause a reappraisal of either fighter’s abilities or position in the boxing pantheon. Is that where you were coming from? – Xavier, Leeds, England

Yeah, I’m saying that Mayweather would still be considered a first-ballot hall of famer if Maidana somehow knocked him out early. But all of the pinheads who claim he’s “TBE” would abruptly stop with that silliness just as Roy Jones Jr.’s even more vocal legion of boobs ceased referring to him as the G.O.A.T. after he was knocked out by Antonio Tarver.

(Actually, only half of “Jonestown,” as Steve Kim dubbed the Jones faithful, backed off their stance that RJ was more than Ray Robinson’s equal following the Tarver rematch. The other half crawled into a cave after Jones was stopped by Glen Johnson.)

Despite those back-to-back knockout losses, and the KOs to Danny Green and Denis Lebedev, Jones is going into the IBHOF as soon as he’s eligible.

 

FOUR FROM DOWN UNDER

Hey Dougie,

Greetings from down-under!

I have been reading your mailbags for years and I never miss them! In Australia we are few hours ahead of the States so the bags go online early evening over here. I always look forward to going home from a long day at work and bringing up your mailbags on my iPad and cracking a cold beer. Love your work!

I have a few quick questions for you, Dougie.

1. What happened to Don King? I started following boxing in 1997 after being captivated by the drama of the “bite fight”. At the time ‘The Don’ seemed to be the supreme ruler of the sport. Now all we hear about are TR and GBP. What are the main reasons that DKP slipped from prominence so rapidly and profoundly? I know he is old but his old sparring partner Uncle Bob just keeps on keeping on.

2. I love speed (not meth, just fast fighters) almost as much as KO power. You have probably answered this question before, but—in order—who are the five fighters with the quickest paws that you have seen fight live?

3. In a lot of ways Canelo reminds me of De La Hoya. A young, handsome Latino with an ability to put asses in seats. While I loved the Golden Boy during the light welter / welter years, my appreciation of him diminished during his 154 lbs reigns. Could Oscar have competed with Canelo at his best at 154 (maybe the Oscar that vanquished Vargas)? Without a ‘name’ opponent can Canelo ever reach the PPV heights set by Oscar? Do you think his lack of fluent English hurts him in the States? We need someone to fill the PPV void left by Floyd once his contact is up.

4. Every week I swing back and forward on Pacman-Bradley 2. I watched the first fight again today. Is there a chance that the fight will look a LOT like the first one (that Manny definitely deserved to win)? I know everyone thinks that Manny has slowed down and lost his fire but has he really dropped that much since 2012? And do you think getting his brain scrambled by Provo and then fighting a cautious fight with JMM has seasoned Bradley as much as some pundits are suggesting? Yes, I know Tim had bad feet during the first go round, but he looked to be moving okay to me. I envisage Manny winning a UD and actually getting the nod this time.  

Anyway Dougie, I hope I make your mailbag. It’d make my day!

Cheers. – Matty B

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Matty, and thanks for the kind words about the mailbag. I’ll answer your questions and comments in order:

1) Don King is alive and well, although the “Kingdom” (as his giant stable of fighters during the 1980s and ‘90s was known) is gone. But he’s still in the game. I witnessed his sublime and rambling loquaciousness yesterday at the Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola press conference on the USC campus here in Los Angeles. King promotes Stiverne, so if the Haitian-Canadian boxer-puncher earns a repeat victory over Arreola in May (which is very possible) and wins the vacant WBC heavyweight title, “the Don” will finally have a major player in the sport.

2) Off the top of my head, the five fastest boxers I’ve witnessed live are: Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson (1994-‘96), Roy Jones Jr. (2000-‘01), Andre Dirrell (2006-’08), Floyd Mayweather (1997-’01) and Shane Mosley (’94-’00).

3) Why do we need someone to fill the pay-per-view void? I think boxing would be more of a mainstream sport if its biggest stars did not fight on PPV. As popular as Mayweather and Pacquiao are, imagine how much more popular they would be if they fought on network television (or even ESPN, which will air the Stiverne-Arreola rematch). I don’t know if Canelo will ever reach De La Hoya’s level of pay-per-view success (or even Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.’s), but I do believe that he will pick up the PPV torch that will soon be passed from Mayweather and Pacquiao. Regarding the De La Hoya-Canelo mythical matchup at 154 pounds, I think the Floyd Mayweather Sr.-trained version of TGB that we saw in 2001-’02 (vs. Javier Castillejo and Fernando Vargas) would have beat Alvarez, maybe stopped him late. I think the current version of Canelo would beat the junior middleweight version of De La Hoya that fought from ’03 to ’07.

4) The great thing about boxing is that all of the questions you have about Pacquiao and Bradley will be answered on April 12. I’m looking forward to it (even though it’s on PPV).

 

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

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