I enjoy reading your mail bag every week. I have wanted to email you for a while but judging by how witty some of your readers submissions are I am not sure that I meet the standard. When you write about how as a kid you would buy The Ring and KO magazine and take in everything you could about boxing it reminds me of myself as a kid although I am probably a little older than you. I wish that I would have had the funds and the time to have been able to collect old tapes of boxing matches but thanks to the internet I now can watch a lot of old bouts.
I was a teenager in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and I loved watching the light heavies from that era. Men in that size range can still move but they maintain the power to punch like men. It's great to see a talent at 175 pounds like Sergey Kovalev, but disappointing to know that he will not be fighting Adonis Stevenson anytime soon. What do you think of the Krusher? I think he is pretty good. I knew he could punch but when I saw him immediately attacking a southpaw with the straight right to the body and throwing that murderous jab then I knew this guy can box and fight. I don't get what is going on with Al Haymon and Showtime. How is this good for boxing? There may be a very good reason for the politics in boxing nowadays but I just don't get it.
Mythical match ups:
Floyd Patterson vs Joe Walcott
Joe Louis vs Joe Frazier
Pacman vs Sandy Saddler
Thanks again. – Eugene
Being a boxing fan since the late 1970s and early ‘80s (as I am), I think it’s safe to say that you’re never going to “get” what’s going on with Haymon and Showtime. You came up during an era when all of the top contenders in every division fought each other.
The bottom line is that what’s happening now (and has been happening since Roy Jones Jr.’s comfy relationship with HBO during the ‘90s and early 2000s) it’s not good for boxing (at least in terms of it being a spectator sport). It’s good for the talent, not so much for the fans.
However, I’d like to state for the record that I don’t blame Haymon for any major fight not happening – I blame the fighters. As far as I’m concerned, the fighters – especially world champions and stars of the sport – are the bosses in the boxer-manager/adviser/promoter relationship.
Just because Stevenson signed with Haymon and will have his next title defense televised on Showtime doesn’t mean he’ll never fight Kovalev. However, if he’s still light heavyweight champ and Kovalev is still unbeaten by the end of 2015, it will be clear to me that Stevenson used boxing business and politics to avoid a dangerous title defense.
I will not blame Al Haymon or Showtime for the fight not happening. I will blame Stevenson.
I think Kovalev legitimately wants to face Stevenson in order to prove who’s “the man” in the 175-pound division. Right now, I consider him one of the top three light heavyweights along with Stevenson and Bernard Hopkins. An argument can be made for any of the three being the top dog right now. The only way we’ll know for sure is if they all fight the way Michael Spinks, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Eddie Gregory (AKA Mustaphah Muhammad), Marvin Johnson, John Conteh, Yaqui Lopez, and so many other 175-pound standouts of the mid-to-late ‘70s/early ‘80s did.
And on that old-school note, onto your mythical matchups (which are good ones!):
Floyd Patterson vs Joe Walcott – Walcott by unanimous decision. The old master drops Patterson at least twice with counter right hands over the first half of the fight and neutralizes the smaller but more explosive boxer’s speed and power with his crafty, quirky shoulder rolls, footwork and lateral movement over the second part of the fight.
Joe Louis vs Joe Fraizer – Smokin’ Joe’s kill-or-be-killed style and mentality is tailor made for The Brown Bomber, who by wins via early KO. Frazier = moth. Louis = flame.
Pacman vs Sandy Saddler – Saddler ices Pacquiao at featherweight and junior lightweight. The PacMonster outpoints Saddler at lightweight or heavier (unless Saddler is able to secure the services of Angel “Memo” Heredia – yeah, I went there…)
NEW PLAN FOR KOVALEV
I may be in the minority but Stevenson ducking Kovalez doesn't really bother me because I honestly think Superman would get drilled “Doomsday” style if that fight were ever to take place. Just watch his first fight with Darnell Boone, he doesn't take shots well.
I am, however, looking forward to a new HBO master plan where they build up Andre Ward as an unbeatable fighter vs Kovalev as an unstoppable KO machine. I think that could be a fascinating promotion if they do it right.
How the fight would actually play out could be another matter though. Ward seems to be heading down the "Old Man Hopkins I don't give a s__t how I look, just get the win" road but I still think it is the most interesting fight for either guy.
What do you think? – Jayme Ward
I think Ward challenging Kovalev for the WBO light heavyweight title could be made into a significant fight, maybe even a major boxing event, but only if Kovalev continues to win and look impressive, and only if Ward gets busy.
I think the super middleweight champ has lost a lot of momentum since winning the Super Six tournament in December 2011 and stopping Chad Dawson in September 2012. He looked as sharp as ever outclassing Edwin Rodriguez last November, but it’s impossible for any boxer not nicknamed “Money” to build on his popularity fighting only once a year.
Ward needs to get his legal matters straight and get back into the ring asap, and then right back into the ring asap. If he could somehow fight twice before the end of this year and once early in 2015, I think there would be significant demand for him to step up in weight and challenge a major light heavyweight (and Kovalev remains the most convenient matchup given the current network politics).
Anyway, I’m sure the good folks at HBO are thinking about eventual showdowns between Kovalev and Ward, Kovalev and Jean Pascal, Ward and Pascal, Ward and the winner of the Carl Froch-George Groves rematch, Kovalev and the Froch-Groves winner, Ward vs. the winner of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Gennady Golovkin (if that fight happens), and so on.
I cracked up reading that “drilled Doomsday style” line. That’s a good one, but I respectfully disagree. I still consider Stevenson-Kovalev to be an even-money matchup, a toss-up. Stevenson’s speed, lateral movement, reach, and of course his power will give Kovalev trouble, just as the Russian’s jab, ring cutting ability, body attack, and compact power combinations could be kryptonite to “Superman.”
Regarding Stevenson’s KO loss to Boone, keep in mind that the Youngstown journeyman gave Kovalev his toughest fight as a pro. Also, keep in mind that Kovalev was KO’d more than once in the amateurs. Neither man is invincible, which is part of what makes that potential matchup so appealing.
KOVALEV VS. STEVENSON
Good morning! I always read the mailbag as soon as I can on Mondays and Fridays, and saw the post about Stevenson. Do you think he can beat Kovalev? I believe it is a toss-up fight. Kovalev may well be the better all-around fighter, and he has excellent power, but Stevenson has that rare one-punch power, and he is, in my old opinion, a very underrated all-around fighter. Again, I would not pick, but if I had to, I would put the odds at a very slight Stevenson by KO.
I agree with you that money talks. He is going to fight whoever makes him the most money, and really, you cannot blame him for that. I don't think he has a bit of problem fighting Kovalev, but it has to be worth his while, understandably, given the risks.
How do you think Sergio Martinez is going to rate against the all-time great middleweights? (Of course, he really is not a true middleweight – neither was the Sugar Man…) I rank him as a good champion, but not in the top 10 all time. Your thoughts?
I have to give you some "what if” matchups, especially with Sonny Liston:
Liston at his prime against Vitali K. at his, over 15;
Marciano at his prime against prime Frazier;
Jack Dempsey against Liston at both their primes;
Sam Langford against Ali at their peaks; (the greatest against the guy no one wanted to fight! But I have to say, I think the greatest was too fast and too big, Langford's natural weight was 185, but he could get down to middleweight)
Sanchez against JC Chavez at 130, again in their primes;
Carlos Monzon at middleweight against Martinez, at their peak;
Doug, thanks again for the mailbag! You make Mondays and Fridays! – John
Thanks for the very kind words about the mailbag, John. I’m glad you enjoy it.
I also view Stevenson-Kovalev as a toss-up fight. I can see Stevenson clipping Kovalev with a big left-hand bomb and I can see Kovalev breaking Stevenson down.
If I had to make an “official pick” I think I would lean toward Kovalev because I think the Russian wants to fight Stevenson more than Stevenson wants to fight him, and I believe that he takes a better punch than the Haitian-Canadian southpaw.
To be clear, when I say “takes a better punch” I’m not saying that Kovalev has a better chin than Stevenson. He might, but I won’t know that for sure until they fight each other. What I mean is that Kovalev seems to respond better to being punched back than Stevenson does. When Kovalev gets nailed clean by one of his opponents, he either walks through it or he takes a step back and then fires back. I’ve seen Stevenson get a bit unnerved and retreat a little bit more than once after getting hit cleanly by naturally smaller fighters.
Onto your “What Ifs”:
Liston at his prime against Vitali K. at his, over 15 – I’m a big Liston fan but I have to go with “Dr. Iron Fist” in this mythical matchup. I think his height, reach, awkward stance, jab, and most importantly, his constant movement would greatly trouble Liston. The prime version of Liston was frustrated and taken the distance by the crafty elusiveness of Eddie Machen at a time when he was knocking every top-10 contender silly. Unlike Machen, Vitali would not be at a size disadvantage vs. Liston. The Ukrainian hero would still be troubled by Liston’s jab and body punching but I think he would score enough while limiting the exchanges to win a close decision.
Marciano at his prime against prime Frazier – I think Smokin’ Joe would get up from an early round knockdown to either outwork Marciano to a close decision or stop The Rock on cuts late in an all-time great slugfest.
Jack Dempsey against Liston at both their primes – I think Liston would survive an early blitz attempt from Dempsey and outbox the rugged puncher to a clear but entertaining decision.
Sam Langford against Ali at their peaks; (the greatest against the guy no one wanted to fight! But I have to say, I think the greatest was too fast and too big, Langford's natural weight was 185, but he could get down to middleweight) – I think the prime version of Ali would outjab and maneuver the hard-punching boxing master to a close and uneventful decision because he would struggle to land his right hands and would be leery of taking it to the smaller man for fear of being counter punched.
Sanchez against JC Chavez at 130, again in their primes – Even though JC Superstar is the proven fighter at junior lightweight, I gotta go with Sal because I view him as the more versatile boxer, and one of the few prize fighters who had superior conditioning and a better chin than Chavez. Sanchez by close decision in a classic boxer-vs.-pressure fighter matchup.
Carlos Monzon at middleweight against Martinez, at their peak – I think it Monzon would win a clear decision by keeping Maravilla on the outside with his longer, more accurate jab, timing the southpaws rushes with hard right hands and hooks from mid-range, and easily manhandling him in the clinches. Even if Martinez were able to land a big left-hand bomb flush on the chin, I don’t think Monzon would flinch.
No disrespect to Martinez, who happens to be one of my favorite active fighters, but Monzon was a monster. Monzon is arguably the greatest middleweight ever (second only to Robinson in my opinion). Monzon is great. Martinez is not. Martinez has accomplished a lot, and he might even be a borderline hall of famer, but he doesn’t come close the top-10 middleweights of all time.
ANOTHER VIOLENT KO FOR THE BONE-KRUSHER
OK Dougie. Let's start with an obvious fact here:
Sergei Kovalev has got these big f___in' cast-iron kettle-bells loaded in his mitts.
Hey, look at his past few fights. The Bone-Krusher literally bashed Campillo and Cleverly into submission. Then it was Sillakh's turn to get swiftly sledgehammered in two rounds. And now we saw Cedric Agnew get nearly busted in two by one straight pile-driving left. Of course both Agnew's ribs and his head were on the verge of caving in anyways. Note to Agnew: Headbutting an already pissed-off guy who cracks like an enraged rhino on steroids is not a particularly smart thing to do. Sure Agnew wasn't exactly an elite guy but he was an undefeated guy hell bent on winning and it doesn't seem to make a difference as far as Kovalev is concerned. Whether it's a top-50 guy or a top-5 guy the result is the same. Another violent kayo. Simply put, this One Man Red Army is on one f__k of a big tear.
Nor am going to shred him for fighting Agnew-level guys in his two fights. Even though Sergei sounds dumber than a drunken 40-year old 5th-grader when he tries to speak English he still doesn't need a translator to make it clear that he wants Stevenson's head a golden platter. Or that he regards Stevenson as "a piece of s__t!" (Forget this political correctness crap Kovalev. Tell us what you really f__king think!) Problem is that "Superman" fled to Showtime so he can fight the fossilized Bernard Hopkins instead. Maybe Kovalev should jump to Showtime as well. Would Stevenson run back to HBO?
And here's a suggestion. Since B-Flop is ranked as the top contender for some f___in' reason and stated that Kovalev isn't even in his class why not give Kovalev the honour of battering that old mother-f___er into that long overdue retirement. Hopkins is much like that rotted hunk of meat that sticks around and stinks up the joint long after its expiry date. And trust me B-Flop is long past the "Get the f__k out of here already" stage.
Of course Shumenov himself might retire the pompous old p___k and regardless who wins that one either guy will obviously bypass Kovalev and go straight for The Man himself, namely Stevenson.
No wonder Kovalev is getting pissed off. Sure he can go take his Red Rage on guys like Jean Pascal and Edwin Rodriguez to keep himself busy. But then what? If anything, Sergei is indeed much like fellow Tsar Golovkin. Both of these badass mother___ers from the East have all the other top guys punking out like a flock of little bitches.
Maybe Kovalev should do what GGG is going to do and move north. Hey, if someone like Tony Bellow can move up to cruiser I'm sure Kovalev has the strength and power to pound out most of those 200-pounders. How about this one: Kovalev versus Marco Huck. We're talking about f___in' battleground Europe with that one! Anyways, just a few suggestions.
Sorry for exploding all those F-bombs and MF-bombs. Well not really. This is boxing we're talking about! See ya! – Triple T
F__k yeah it is. Let’s not let anyone forget it.
Kovalev vs. Huck or against one of his fellow Russians – Denis Lebedev or Grigory Drozd – at cruiserweight would produce brutal power-punching slugfests, however, Krusher’s promoter, Kathy Duva, has made it clear that she wants her fighter at 175 pounds.
She wants Kovalev to emulate Golovkin’s activity, but in terms of the career planning, I think she wants him to take a page out of Marvin Hagler’s book (or B-Hop’s) and wait for the bigger names to step up from the division right below him. Obviously, Andre Ward is the big prize (and Duva hopes the 2004 Olympic gold medalist doesn’t pull a Ray Leonard on her boy if they ever fight), but there’s also Mikkel Kessler, the Froch-Groves II winner (hey, there’s a reason HBO is showing that fight) and maybe even Junior after he gets his ass handed to him by GGG (he’ll claim that he was weight drained making 168).
Your opinion of Hopkins cracked me up. You’re obviously not a fan of the Immortal B-Hop. It’s been awhile since I’ve really enjoyed one of his fights but I’m looking forward to the Shumenov fight for some reason. Maybe I just like the Shumenator. I’m not calling an upset special (yet), I just think the Kazakhstan native will make it interesting.
Even if Hopkins dominates Shumenov and Stevenson, I don’t want to see him fight Kovalev. I think that’s a very dangerous fight for him. To be honest, I’m a little worried about the Shumenov fight.
I love this line: “Maybe Kovalev should jump to Showtime as well. Would Stevenson run back to HBO?”
Hey, it’s a good question.
INTERESTED IN STEVENSON-HOPKINS
As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cambodia and I mention that only to say that it is difficult to stay engaged with what's going on with sports in the US, I always eagerly anticipate both of your Mailbags, and am happy when they are posted early Monday morning (I'm 15 hours ahead of CA here).
I have no comment on the Stevenson move to Showtime. Yes, Stevenson-Kovalev would potentially be a heroic scrap to watch, but since I am more into the historian/legacy aspect of sports, it doesn't matter to me because I would love for a Stevenson-Hopkins matchup (assuming he gets through Shumenov, of course). I think what Hopkins is doing is more of a testament to all things that are good in sports, in terms of one's personal preparation, professionalism, lifestyle, etc., and for him to potentially get back to the very top, again, I think, would mean much more than maybe people are able to vision right now… But that's just my amateur opinion.
One opinion, however, which I am sure others share concerns what Main Events plans on doing with Kovalev, now that the Stevenson fight is currently on hold. Looking at the potentially viable challengers (besides a super middleweight coming up), who are not with Haymon, Michel, or Golden Boy, it's difficult to see anybody who would garner much interest here in the US, or even in Europe. If Cloud was even remotely competitive against Stevenson, he could have been one, but the only ones I could see interest in (in terms of competitiveness) would be fights with Europeans, like Braehmer or Erdei (if he is interested/doesn't pull out). Other former titlists have moved up in weight or are no longer worth mentioning. Another guy could be Chilemba, which would be interesting to see if Kovalev could stop him from stinking him out, but I'm not sure if Duva would want to take that chance while Kovalev's popularity is still trying to be built up. Maybe he'll be like GGG for a while and fight 2nd-3rd tier guys until he finally gets a fight with one of the other champions? There would also be no shame in having him do a fight or two in Europe to try and build more of a following in western Europe, particularly Germany (which is why either Braehmer or Erdei could be of interest).
Maybe I am too disconnected from everything and what I have to say isn't viable, but that isn't to say it would be any different if I was still in the US. – Gianni, somewhere near the Vietnamese border
Your opinions and comments are valid, Gianni, and not just because of your kind words about the mailbag.
If Chilemba continues to win, I think he will get a shot at Kovalev. Duva’s certainly willing to take Krusher overseas – he won his title in Wales and he had a stay-busy fight tentatively scheduled in Russian before he suffered cuts in the Agnew bout – but she also wants to try to build his name and fanbase here in the U.S. (particularly in Atlantic City). Chilemba, who is used to traveling for his fights, would be fine with challenging the Krusher in AC, so would fellow U.S.-based Russian Anatoliy Dudchenko (who, like Chilemba, is also signed to Duva’s Main Events).
However, there’s another market to consider, one that Kovalev has already fought in and that’s the Quebec province of Canada, where former champ Jean Pascal, top WBO contender Eleider Alvarez, and former 168-pound standout Lucian Bute all reside. Kovalev vs. either of the Quebec-based trio would do very strong business if the fight took place in Montreal or Quebec City.
I agree that Hopkins’s quest to become the undisputed champion in another division while pushing 50 is the stuff of greatness. Anyone who reads my mailbags on a regular basis knows that Hopkins is the only active fighter that I consider an all-time great and my opinion is due to his character and willingness to challenge himself as much as it has to do with his amazing longevity.
Like I stated in my previous response, I’m a little worried about him fighting these hard-hitting young guns, but I respect his goal. How many elite fighters in the primes are actively trying to do what B-Hop is?
I also respect your opinion of wanting to see Hopkins vs. Stevenson. It would indeed be of great historical significance. I’ll still be nervous for B-Hop even though I’ve seen him upset the odds at least four or five times.
CHAVEZ JR. WILL BEAT GGG
What's up Douglas I'm an avid reader of the mailbags but this is my first time writing in so I hope I make the cut!
So let me get started. Chaver Jnr vs GGG. Now GGG is one badass fighter, I believe he is the best middleweight fighter in the world. In fact I think he would destroy Sergio, Cotto and Quillin in one night! But I seriously think, and may I be forgiven if I am wrong, that Chavez will beat the living crap out of GGG. Many will disagree but has GGG faced anyone with an iron chin Like Chavez? I think not.
Plus he's moving up in weight and we all know Chavez will come in weighing like a sumo wrestler come fight night. Chavez will absorb some punishment but I think he will bully and rough up GGG for a narrow UD. Now I really dislike Chavez but I just feel like this will be his coming out party. I'm sure you and many will disagree. I mean GGG may just batter Chavez into submission. But I just think that Chavez will take GGG down.
Another thing why all the hate on Stevenson if you’re gonna get hit on the face for a living why not get as much money as you can! No way is the Haitian badass scared of Kovalev. It's about business at the end of it.
Predictions on Khan vs Collazo? I have Khan UD (although I wouldn't be surprised if he gets countered and knocked out cold).
Peace out. – H. Ali, Leicester, England
Peace, H.A. You made the cut!
I think I’m leaning toward Collazo. He’s not a great puncher but his timing is very good and he hits hard enough to put Khan on his roller skates.
I agree that it’s about business, but I understand fans’ frustration with Stevenson and that notion of “business before the sport.” We get told that all time whenever fan-friendly matchups fail to happen. Boxing has always been about business but somehow most of the big fights of previous decades were made.
However, truth be told, most of the fans who are bitching about Stevenson and calling him a gutless punk would also avoid a punisher like Kovalev and go for “easier” money.
Onto your opinion of the Chavez-Golovkin matchup. It’s not a crazy opinion. Junior is freakin’ huge and the young man can fight. He’s got some talent to go with his iron chin. I don’t think he’s a walk in the park for anyone but I do think he’s out of his class against Golovkin, just as he was against Martinez. And though GGG is not a big middleweight, he’s a natural 160 pounder who is in his prime, unlike Maravilla. Oh, and Golovkin can punch a lot harder than Martinez.
I think Golovkin will land just as much as Martinez and Bryan Vera did but he won’t wear down like the middleweight champ did and he won’t be as easy to hit back as Vera was. GGG has some nice inside technique. It was on display during a 2011 sparring session with Junior. Check it out. I know Chavez was still developing at that time but the disparity in poise and technique is undeniable. Golovkin was clearly holding back on Junior during that sparring session. He won’t be in July (if the fight is made).
Photo gallery / Naoki Fukuda
Email Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer