‘FIGHT NIGHT’ FAVORITISM, LIKING BRADLEY
Been an avid Monday and Friday reader for the last year and a half. I've learned so much about the history of boxing as well as the current scene from you. I had always been a casual fan of boxing, but under your (unknowing) tutelage I have become a "hardcore head."
A couple of things that are on my mind after this weekend:
Thanks! – JTB, Boston
Thanks for the kind words, JTB. There’s no higher praise for me as a boxing writer who values the history of the sport than to hear that my columns helped foster an appreciation of boxing’s glorious past in a casual observer who has become a hardcore fan.
I’ll answer your questions in order:
1) I agree that Johnson put forth an incredible effort against Stevens on Friday, and I thought the Bahamas prospect was winning the bout handily by setting the pace, taking the fight to the hard-punching contender and outworking him in every round. However, I don’t think he was deliberately screwed by referee Gary Rosato. I think the veteran official was legitimately concerned for Johnson’s safety when he halted the bout. I don’t think he was trying to “protect” the “house fighter;” and I know that NBC Sports Net doesn’t have any interest in home cooking or influence with the officials who are selected for the Main Events shows that it periodically broadcasts. Personally, I thought the stoppage was a little bit premature given Johnson’s ability to take Stevens’ power and come back with his own hard shots for nine and half rounds. I thought Johnson earned the right to try and answer back after Stevens backed him to the ropes with mostly arm punches (most of which were blocked) following that monster hook he landed. Having said that, I can understand why Rosato stopped the fight. Johnson had taken a lot of hard shots throughout the tough fight and that big hook swiveled his head in a whiplash manner that usually spells concussion for the recipient. Johnson seemed momentarily stunned and unaware when Rosato stepped in, which could mean that he was defenseless. That’s not a good thing when Curtis Stevens is coming at you. It was a heartbreaking stoppage given that Johnson was up on the scorecards, but it certainly isn’t among the most biased or premature ending to a fight that I’ve seen in recent years. No doubt the 97-90 card in the Cunningham-Mansour fight sucked. That was a hometown scorecard.
2) I don’t think Bradley lacks personality. He’s refreshingly genuine without what you young cats call “swagger.” I’m sure the fact that he doesn’t act like “Floyd Mayweather III” causes some of the pinheads out there in the Twitterverse to lose interest in him, but my guess is that his bitterness/denial over the public backlash from the first Pacquiao fight is what turns you off. It turns off a lot of people. I’ve known about Bradley for a long time and I’ve covered his fights longer than most U.S. fight scribes outside of David Avila a few other Southern California boxing people, so believe me when I tell you, he’s a cool dude and a good person. He’s not an arrogant a__hole. He’s not selfish and he’s not mean outside of the ropes. He is, however, extremely proud. He wouldn’t be where he is today if he didn’t possess that fierce pride. He wouldn’t have survived the Provodnikov war if he didn’t have that in him. And it’s that pride that keeps Bradley from admitting that he got a gift in the first Pacquiao fight. I honestly believe that he’d have a much bigger fanbase today if he would have given Pacquiao more credit on June 9, 2012. But like I said, that defiance is what makes Bradley the fighter he is. Regarding his style, while it is cagey and sometimes hard to watch, we’ve all seen him go at it more than enough to keep him out of the “stinker” category. If Bradley puts on a good fight and legitimately beats Pacquiao this Saturday I think he’ll win over a lot of fans, especially if he’s respectful to the PacMan (and I think he will be). I think he’ll win a lot of fans if he loses (in a good fight), provided he accepts the loss.
3) I don’t think the cruiserweight division lacks talent. It just doesn’t have a lot of U.S.-based talent. To my knowledge, London-born contender Ola Afolabi is the only legit top-10 contender who lives and trains in the U.S. All the other top cruiserweights are in Germany (where longtime WBO titleholder Marco Huck is king), Russia (with Lebedev and my personal 200-pound fave Grigory Drozd), South Africa (with Ilunga Makubu and Thabiso Mchunu), Poland and Ukraine. So most of the action takes place overseas. However, there is some hope for some world-class cruiser action in the States. Mchunu is promoted by Main Events and has already appeared on two of the NBC Sports Net “Fight Night” shows. Afolabi is promoted by K2, which now has a foothold with HBO thanks to Gennady Golovkin. Afolabi was on the Golovkin-Stevens undercard last November and might make it to a televised co-feature of one of GGG’s future HBO fights if the right opponent can be found.
BRADLEY IS NO MATCH FOR PACQUIAO
I’m so pumped for this weekend of boxing that I decided to try and do what most boxing fans do these days, justify a robbery (aka a bad decision).
When I saw the Pacquiao-Bradley fight back in 2012, I couldn’t find rounds to give to Timothy Bradley. From round 1-8, I just thought he was outboxed and out hustled. I could only give the 9th and 12th rounds to the man from Palm Springs, and that was because Pacquiao was taking breathers. Now that Pacquiao got KO’ed, Bradley redeemed himself and Manny didn’t look so hot (in the eyes of many) in his return, so many are picking Tim to get a clear win this time around. I still don’t understand why. To me, Bradley is only as good as he looked in the first Pacman fight. Everything he did against Ruslan and Marquez ain’t no different than what he’s done in the past. He showed real heart against Provo and that he can outbox an old featherweight, albeit a legend. Pacman on the other hand, looked very good for 5 rounds against Marquez and simply outboxed a slower bigger boxer in Rios the way I expected him to do it, no difference there. Yes, he isn’t the same fighter, but he does look very similar to the version that fought Bradley. Pacman probably slipped a bit after the Antonio Margarito fight. Nobody noticed since he keeps fighting so much better than everybody else.
So after reading so many predictions in favor of Bradley I decided to give a chance to the first fight and see it again to see if I could find anything in particular that could make me think that the fight was closer as many are also saying. After watching it again here are my conclusions:
– NO WAY Bradley won more than 3 rounds. I had it 118-110 the first time, this time I gave him one more round, the first, and closed it at 117-111.
– The main difference in the fight was speed, accuracy, power and defense.
– All those combinations that Bradley throws and lands on almost every fighter, Pacquiao slipped or moved away from them. He was masterful that night against a very good boxer.
– Bradley never hurt Pacquiao, he simply doesn’t pose any threat once they engage in a toe-to-toe fight.
– Pacquiao hurt Bradley several times during the fight, you could see it in his face. A 5-punch combination that landed prompted Bradley to lose balance AND injure his foot.
– Talking about his face, Bradley seemed to have the face of a confused fighter throughout the fight. He clearly was the loser in his mind.
– To the people that justify Bradley’s performance because of his injury to his foot, it didn’t happen until the 4th round, and the first three rounds didn’t give me any indication that it made a real difference.
– Pacquiao is simply a better all-around fighter in every aspect of the game. It’s clear that he is a superior, smarter all-around boxer.
The only way I see Bradley winning, is if the fight goes much like the 12th round went, that is, a slower, more tired Pacman shows up and gets beat to the punch by a faster, fresher Bradley. Now, to end my email, most people these days can’t stick to their original scorecard. Everybody is looking for a way to score a close fight much closer than it is once they hear it was much closer than they originally thought. There were 3 close rounds in the fight, but they were clearly won by Pacman; once again, they were close but clearly won by the man who did a little more. You can’t score them otherwise, it’s just a close round. You can’t change the outcome of a 93-92 NBA Basketball game… it’s just close, deal with it. Much like this fight, many went back and saw the Mauricio Herrera vs Danny Garcia as many times possible until they scored it a draw. Our mind plays tricks on us sometimes when the fighter that’s supposed to win doesn’t actually do it. Herrera reminded me a little bit of “Mantecas” Medina by the way…
There’s a 50-50 chance I’ll attend the fight Saturday night. If I do, I’ll hopefully see you at the Rouge. Cheers Doug! – Juan Valverde, San Diego
You won’t see me at the Rouge. I’ll be watching Pacquiao-Bradley 2 on TV. But say whut-up to my man Lem Satterfield if you wind up going and if you see him there.
You win this week’s “Dougie award” (your official Doug Fischer bobble-head doll is being shipped out as I write this) for mentioning former four-time featherweight titleholder Manuel Medina. I love that ugly, skinny, no-power-having, volume-punching, boxing-bouncing MoFo. Now that I’m thinking about his underrated career, it dawns on me that he would be a good future subject for our Best I’ve Faced series because Medina fought EVERYBODY. If you see Steve Kim in Vegas this weekend ask him to give you his thoughts on Medina. I know the K-Hammer thinks “Mantecas” is hall-of-fame worthy.
Regarding the Bradley-Pacquiao rematch I agree that PacMan clearly won the first fight. I scored it 117-111 (or nine rounds to three) and never saw any reason to re-watch or rescore it. I agree that Pacquiao made him miss a lot in the first fight. I agree that Bradley never hurt Pacquiao.
However, I disagree Bradley was “hurt several times during the fight” and I disagree that Pacquiao is clearly the “superior, smarter all-around boxer.” There are things that Pacquiao does better than Bradley, such as setting up clean power shots and maneuvering away from an opponent’s volleys. But there are things that Bradley does better than Pacquiao, such as infighting and working consistently for three minutes of the round. In terms of speed, reflexes, footwork and conditioning, I think they’re equal. The one big edge that Pacquiao had on Bradley going into the first fight was experience and I think that was the difference in the fight.
Pacquiao was used to the big dance. He was comfortable with all the pre-fight media demands and the bright lights of fight night. Bradley wasn’t. He was a little tight. He wasn’t 100 percent himself, in my opinion. I think he will be for the rematch.
I like Bradley on points this Saturday. I think he’ll outhustle Pacquiao in most of the rounds. I still think it will be close on the scorecards because Pacquiao will be more focused for this one that he was in 2012 and he land the harder shots. Bradley will be a little more aggressive, which might enable Pacquiao to catch and hurt the undefeated American once or twice. If that happens we can expect more controversy if the fight goes the distance. I’m guessing Glenn Trowbridge will have the fight even or for Pacquiao, 115-113, if Bradley suffers even one wobbly moment.
BADASSES AND BIG MAC
What's up Dougie,
Tough break for Enzo Maccarinelli over the weekend. He gave a good account for himself but there's only so far you can go with one eye. I like the bloke, and I think he could still be a player around the top ten in the light heavyweight division. However, my feeling is that he's had a good career and has not got much left to prove. He's been in enough wars, and I'd like to see him call it a day.
Moving on to a more trivial note, if you had to name boxing's five biggest badasses over the last five years (impossible to answer over any significant period of time), who would make your cut? I'd plump for Antonio Margarito, Ann Wolfe, Edwin Valero (RIP), Choi Tseveenpurev and Michael Katsidis. Honourable mentions to Mikkel Kessler, Erik Morales, Miguel Cotto and Big Bro Vitali.
All the best – James, London
That’s a good top five list for the biggest badasses of the last five years, James. No arguments from me. I like your honorable mentions, too.
But just to remind fans that there are more badasses out there doing their bad-ass thing in recent years than most acknowledge, I’ll give you a top five with different fighters:
James Kirkland (he’s King Badass as far as I’m concerned – nobody is as willing to take as much punishment or work as hard for the knockout as he is, except for maybe my No. 2 guy on this list), Giovani Segura (who just fought this past Saturday, and who was one-half of the slugfest that I still think was the best fight of 2013, his 12th-round KO of Tyson Marquez), Brandon Rios (yeah, he was outclassed by both PacMan and Richard Abril but that doesn’t erase his lightweight his title bout battles with Miguel Acosta, Urbano Antillon and John Murray, or his back-to-back wars with Mike Alvarado), Alvarado (his last five fights were blood-and-guts wars), and Ruslan Provodnikov (the Siberian badass earned the right to the “Rocky” nickname last year).
Honorable mention: Carl Froch, Marco Huck, Takashi Miura, Sergio “Yeyo” Thompson, Omar Figueroa Jr.
Although he probably wouldn’t make anyone’s list, Maccarinelli is a badass himself. He’s lived by the sword and he’s died by it – seven times – during his up-and-down career. Big Mac can punch but he doesn’t take the best shot, and he’s taken his fair share. Every time the Welshman has lost it was been by stoppage. He’s experienced almost every king of knockout: early rounds blowout, late-rounds stoppage, one-shot KO, and finally the technical variety against Juergen Braehmer.
I think it’s time for Maccarinelli to hang ‘em up. He held a major title (the WBO cruiserweight belt), defended it a few times, took on top competition (and lost to most of them), bounced back from numerous setbacks and always gave it what he had. He’s entertained UK fans for many years. I think he’s had a solid career.
BRADLEY-PAC 2, WBC HEAVYWEIGHT MIX
I have to say I'm quite excited to be a boxing fan these days and I've got a feeling that 2014 may even top the stellar year that we had in 2013.
I am really looking forward to the Bradley-Pacquiao rematch this weekend.
I think that it will be a better fight than last time as Bradley really seems to want to prove a point this time around and so does Pacquiao. If the Pacman wants to win this one, he is going to have to go balls to the walls and turn it into a fight like he did in his ill-fated last fight against Marquez. Mentally, I'm just not sure that he can do it and you have to remember that Bradley is as good a counter puncher as Marquez. Yes, he is not the greatest puncher, but he can hurt you if he times you right. Marquez was also not supposed to be Tommy Hearns before his last fight against Pacquiao and look what happened there.
I expect all these things to be playing in Pacquiao's mind when the bell rings and he is going to try and do what he did against Rios. I just don't see anybody except Mayweather winning a boxing match against Bradley. I think Bradley will win a hard fought, but clear decision this time around. How do you see it going down?
Then there was Steve Cunningham and Amir Mansour showing us what a good heavyweight fight actually looks like. The fight went almost exactly as I expected that it would and you've got to have mad respect for both guys.
Mansour has got heart, heavy hands and is a general tough customer that needs a bit of refinement in the skills department. I'd like to see him again against a name heavyweight. He just looks like the kind of guy who can upset the apple cart if someone takes him lightly. I think he might make for a good fight against fellow fourtysomething year old Tony Thompson, who recently rebounded by upsetting Odlanier Solis.
Very happy for Cunningham that he finally got a win, but as much as I like and respect him, I just struggle to see a happy ending for him at heavyweight. His heart and skills seems to drag his non-heavyweight chin through life and death situations, but I would hate to see the guy get hurt. I think his best option would be a rubber match with Tomasz Adamek. That one may just happen since Adamek's wheels finally came off against Glazkov. What would you do with "USS" if you could play promoter?
Another reason for my new found excitement is the creation of a second heavyweight "league" with the WBC belt becoming vacant. This is good mostly for the matches that it is creating and by the fact that, unlike the HBO/Top Rank vs Showtime/Golden Boy garbage, it is temporary, since I am sure Wladimir Klitschko will want to pick up the green belt sometime next year after he has taken care of Alex Leapai, Kubrat Pulev and perhaps the Fury-Chisora rematch winner. The eventual survivor of the Stiverne, Arreola, Wilder, Jennings and Perez round robin should then be a serious opponent for Klitschko.
How do you see the Stiverne-Arreola rematch going? Saw Arreola sitting ringside on ESPN the other night and he definitely looks a lot less chubby than usual. Then again, the first Stiverne and Adamek fight for that matter were also very important and he couldn't get himself up for those. Strange guy "The Nightmare" is.
I actually think that Arreola has the better chance of the two of bringing Deontay Wilder down. Stiverne likes to lay around on the outside and as we saw in the Malik Scott fight, if you do that against Wilder, there is the very real chance that you may never get started. Arreola, on the other hand, has the aggression and ability to land short, compact punches on the inside, underneath those wild shots that Wilder likes to throw. I have been critical of Wilder in the past, but I promise to be a believer if he bounces any of those two around the ring like Foreman did to Frazier. What do you think?
Mike Perez can stink out the joint when he is in against a guy who boxes from the outside like Carlos Takam, but I think that against Bryant Jennings, a guy who will come forward and apply constant pressure, we could see another "Fight of the Year" candidate, similar to the Abdusalamov fight, providing that Perez can rid himself of the ghost of the tragic aftermath of that fight. Still, I've got Jennings on this one, simply because I think that he is defensively more sound than Abdusalamov. I do however think that his lack of size will make him come up just short against the Stiverne-Arreola-Wilder survivor. What is your take on him?
Keep up the excellent work as always. Regards. – Droeks Malan, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Droeks. It’s nice to hear from a satisfied boxing fan.
I agree that Jennings is a bit too small to be a world-beater but, like you, I favor him over Perez in what should be a competitive and entertaining fight. I’m not sold on Perez. My hunch is that the Abdusalamov tragedy may have ruined him psychologically. But we’ll see.
I favor the quicker, more-versatile Stiverne in the Arreola rematch, which should be a fun and competitive heavyweight scrap, but I agree with you that Arreola is better suited to test Wilder than the talented Haitian-Canadian.
If I was in charge of Cunningham’s career, I’d drop him back down to cruiserweight at least for his next two or three fights and I’d focus on rubber matches. I’d push for a third bout with Krzystof Wlodarczyk and I’d pull the trigger on it if I could get the Polish WBC beltholder to meet Steve in the U.S. (say Chicago). If he beat Wloddy (which is very possible) then I’d lobby for a third bout with RING champ Yoan Pablo Hernandez. He’d probably have to travel back to Germany but the WBC strap should help him command a decent-sized payday. Win or lose vs. the Cuban, I’d have him go back to heavyweight for the third match against Adamek, which I view as a 50-50 fight.
If Cunningham beat Adamek, I’d think about having him cash out vs. a name heavyweight, but only if he didn’t take a lot of punishment in the Adamek fight. If he lost, I’d have him consider retirement.
I agree that Cunningham-Mansour was a proper heavyweight clash and the class both men showed before and after the fight made me appreciate the them and the fight even more.
I don’t think Mansour can hang with Thompson. I think the heavyweight southpaw veteran would outclass the stocky late-bloomer. Remember, Thompson is just as smart and savvy as Cunningham, but he’s also got a real heavyweight’s size, plus very good technique, to help him keep Mansour in check.
I view Mansour as a heavyweight gate-keeper (and I use that term with the utmost respect). I think he can get back on TV and entertain fans while letting us know if young up-and-comers like Andy Ruiz Jr., Hughie Fury, or Dominic Breazeale have what it takes to transition into legit contenders, or if older fringe contender types, such as Luis Ortiz or Jonathan Banks can still make it.
I view the Bradley-Pacquiao rematch the same way you do. I think Bradley will win a hard-fought decision. However, while I think the majority of the media will agree with that verdict, I’m not sure if most fans or the general public will.
FRAMPTON-SANTA CRUZ, YAEGASHI-GONZALEZ
What up Doug,
How are you keeping? Been a strange and exciting weekend of fights, with some pretty good potential fights in the horizon!
First off I'll start in my country of Ireland, with Fridays fight with Carl Frampton and Hugo Cazares. I will be honest and say that I did not expect that to happen, I expected Carl to box and beat up Cazares and force a stoppage or knockout down the stretch. Carl I felt boxed well and showed some nice inside boxing, and the left hook that he caught Cazares with would hurt and possibly drop anybody in the division I feel. Unfortunately we had a scene reminiscent of Chisora vs Scott, with Cazares being counted out where he was clearly able to continue. It differs from the Scott situation though, as where Scott was a victim of referee incompetence, Hugo made an error of judgement and I think mistimed the count, something I wouldn't expect from somebody of his experience! I would have liked to see it continue, but in all honesty I think that Hugo would have been on the end of a serious beating. With Cazares out of the way, Santa Cruz vs Frampton will surely have to be made now, and it will be a classic no doubt! Call it nationalistic pride or bias, but as much as I like Leo I feel that Frampton will have too much for him, Leo hasn't faced a true 122 pounder yet and has shown that he can't really box on the backfoot! Physically I don't think you will find a stronger or better athlete in the division than Carl, I know you rate Quigg over him but I really think Rigo is the only guy above Frampton right now! So here's to the two Jackals!
Well Japan seems to be the place to be for entertaining boxing these days. Roman Gonzalez and Akira Yaegashi both blitzed through their respective opponents to set up a possible clash, that fight would surely have the potential to be a FOTY? I love both those guys, Gonzalez is one of the most entertaining boxers going right now, and Yaegashi is one ballsy mother___er! If it does happen I'd have to pick Chocolatito by come from behind knockout though. Staying in Japan, the little phenom Naoya Inoue just won his first title also. I really thought that he should have won the prospect of the year with the body of work he done. His handlers really have faith in him and his younger bro, 6 fights in at the level he’s been up against, and at only 20, just shows how special a talent he is! Question, now that Ioka seems to be moving north to 112, would a Inoue vs Fuentes/Nietes fight be for The Ring's vacant 108 title?
Just a few last points, Curtis Stevens managed to pull off the Ol' Chavez vs Taylor trick. I just don't see how the ref stopped that fight. Where was Stevie Smoger when we needed him? I felt bad for Enzo Maccarinelli, he's one of the genuine good guys in boxing and it’s unfortunate that he got Lebdev'd out of the fight! Who knows what would have happened had he not got that eye injury, but credit to Braehmer. Big congratulations to Steve Cunningham, the guy won me €100 with his win over Mansour. Am I the only one looking for a Shannon Briggs vs Mansour fight??
Anyway that's enough of me, have a good week Doug, and thanks to The Ring I got a T-Shirt coming to me in the post for a Twitter competition, which is cool! Peace. – Tosh, Ireland
Congrats on the T-shirt win, Tosh. Take a pic with it on and send it to me with your next email to the mailbag. I’ll post it for sure.
Are you the only one looking for a Shannon Briggs vs Mansour fight? Um, yeah, I think you are.
Good question about the May 10 Nietes-Fuentes fight. Nietes is THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior flyweight. Fuentes is our No. 3-rated 108 pounder. That’s one for our Ratings Panel to discuss. If it’s clear that No. 2-rated Kaz Ioka is moving up in weight, I think the Panel will suggest that the magazine’s vacant belt is up for rabs on May 10.
Naoya Inoue is indeed a phenom. He didn’t win THE RING’s Prospect of the Year honor last year because he was already rated in the mag’s 108-pound rankings by the middle of 2013. I’m more impressed with Inoue winning the WBC title in his sixth pro bout than I was with RING’s 2013 Prospect of the Year Vasyl Lomachenko’s bold stand against Orlando Salido. I wonder if Teddy Atlas will be adding the “Monster” to his pound-for-pound list.
If Yaegashi-Gonzalez is made it will be the fight that I look forward to the most this year. I favor Gonzalez by hard-fought decision. I don’t think he’ll have to come from behind to win. But I must state that both have faced some of the best fighters from strawweight to flyweight and their fight should receive its due attention from all the so-called hardcore fans and members of the media if it’s made.
And I’ve written this before, but I’ll proudly repeat it: If the winner of Yaegashi-Gonzalez isn’t in every reputable publication or writer’s pound-for-pound top 10, I’m done with the mythical ratings.
I don’t have a problem with the Cazares stoppage. The guy’s a vet. He should have been more focused on the ref’s count after he was dropped and beat it if he really wanted to continue. But it was clear to me that he was outgunned from the get-go and I think he realized it after the first round. It was only a matter of time before Frampton flattened him. Cazares is past his prime and he has no business fighting above 115 pounds.
It’s time Frampton and Santa Cruz leave the old warhorses alone and prove their mettle against each other. I see Santa Cruz-Frampton as an even fight. I think Frampton is the more talented and versatile of the two but Santa Cruz is more experienced/battle tested and he might be the naturally bigger man even though he’s coming up from bantamweight. It will be interesting to see who can impose his will, strength and style on the other once the bell rings.
I’ll be watching the Quigg-Cermeno fight on April 19. If he looks sharp vs. the Venezuelan veteran, I might still favor him to beat Frampton (and Santa Cruz). We’ll see.
Email Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer