Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Friday mailbag

COUNTDOWN TO REDEMPTION

Well Douglas, this it. The Final Countdown to Redemption. Both Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley are both out for it. Who gets it? I'm not going to pretend to act like I know who's going to win because really I don't have a clue.

We all know that Pac is not the fast-footed bomber that annihilated Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto back in 2008/’09. But if we still get the PacMan who nearly trampled Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 then Bradley's going down. Or is he? He refused to stay down against Ruslan Provodnikov and the Timmy who unloaded over a 1,000 punches in that battle just might completely outfight Manny, especially if Pac gasses out.

And come to think about how would you explain Pac's decreased aggression in his last few fights? Is it all about him going all nice on us or is it mainly a matter of Father Time along with all those tough fights and hyper-active schedule taking a toll on the Pac-Machine?

All I know that if Timmy does win and even if he literally dominates the fight he'll probably still get ripped by those keyboard tough-guys for a being a piece of s__t as well as another “gutless boring black guy.” Which pretty much brings my answer to Timmy's fans who wonder what's with the crap dumped on their guy. It's one thing for the name-guy to get a gift win over you. But if you get the gift win over the big hero then you're the most worthless sack of s__t in boxing, regardless of what you do next.

So you can imagine the unrelenting gloating that will come up all over Facebook and the whole Twitterverse if Manny wins. Not to mention the big renewal of the Pacquiao-Mayweather theatrics. Either way, the comments all over the board the following Sunday and Monday will be quite the entertaining read.

I just want a good fight. I'm actually rooting for Pac to take it but if Timmy wins convincingly this time I'll give him his due. Best of luck to both guys. Hopefully the judges will be watching this time.

Oh and speaking of redemption I got to give kudos to Joshua Clottey for pounding the crap out of Anthony Mundane the other night. For a guy who hadn't fought in years, that was the clearly his most kickass performance since he punched out Zab Judah back in ’08, which pretty much goes to show how unstoppable The Pac-Machine was those few years ago.

Anyways, how do you see Clottey measuring up against the likes of Erislandy Lara, James Kirkland, and Canelo Alvarez? Holler back, and regarding Paqiuiao-Bradley, may the best man win! – Dave

Indeed. I think the better man tomorrow night will be the younger man (and defending beltholder) but I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on that opinion.

I think Clottey can be a player in the 154-pound division but I believe that he would lose to the terrific trio you mentioned. Lara outboxes him from a distance and wins what would probably look like a 154-pound version of Rigondeaux-Agbeko, Kirkland outworks him to an entertaining decision, and Alvarez picks his spots, uses his size push the Ghanaian veteran around and lands more telling blows en route to a close but clear points win.

You are absolutely right that Bradley’s key to victory is to set a pace and tempo (with greater activity and punch output) that forces the older, more battle-worn veteran to burn out by the late rounds. I see Bradley doing just that, but I also envision him getting nailed and rocked a couple times in the early rounds, which will make the fight close on the scorecards if the fight goes the distance.

You are also absolutely correct that if Pacquiao wins, poor Timmy will be dragged through the mud by the legion of cretins that prowl the Twitterverse and creep through Facebook. Have I mentioned how much I despise the so-called people who like to crap on honest fighters when they are down?

Pacquiao’s decreased aggression has nothing to do with “his going all nice on us” (or his religion). It has everything to do with Father Time – along with his frenetic fighting style, wear and tear from 62 professional bouts, at least a dozen hard world-class fights, countless grueling training camps, fighting at unnaturally heavy weights, and a lack of desire that comes with tremendous success in boxing and other areas of life.

I don’t see Bradley getting knocked out. The 2009-’10 version that beat up Cotto and put Clottey in check may have been able to stop Desert Storm but not the version from 2012 to the present.

 

POST-PAC-BRADLEY

Hi Doug,

Want your view on possible, but unlikely, match-ups after Saturday night.

Pacquiao vs Kell Brook

Pacquiao vs Shawn Porter

Bradley vs the same fighters, but I think he loses "again" to Pacman so its optional if you want to put your input into that – Dennis

I don’t think Bradley will lose, so I’m happy to give my thoughts on how he would do vs. Brook and Porter, both of which would be entertaining fights in my opinion.

I like Bradley by close decision in both matchups. I think he would outwork Brook and I believe he would out-slick Porter.

I think Pacquiao would have problems with Brook due to the undefeated Brit’s blend of speed, footwork, upper-body movement and accurate power punching (especially his uppercuts). Carson Jones proved in their first fight that Brook struggles when pressed for 12 rounds. Pacquiao isn’t a pressure fighter, he’s an in-and-out boxer-puncher. I think Brook, who is just entering his athletic prime at age 27, would be able to time and catch Pac with a devastating shot that either turns or ends the fight.

Porter would also give Pacquiao a tough time due to their familiarity from past sparring sessions, but that works both ways. I think Pac has enough left to outbox his determined former sparring partner to a close decision.

 

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

Good morning Mr. Fischer,

I have to tell you so far this boxing year is looking like last year as far as good match ups, and it`s just getting better. First off I just read your piece and prediction on Pac-Bradley2 in the Head 2 Head Analysis from the magazine and I liked your graphics but I don’t think that Bradley will win and here’s why:

Manny will do the same thing he did last fight against TB but he will do it for 3 minutes of every round. I was impressed with TB victory over Provo but in the Marquez fight he didn’t impress me. You see I think Marquez would’ve beaten TB but his body just doesn’t let him do the things his mind wants to do any more, which just shows you that Timmy beat a physically limited boxer in JMM. Now, in this fight with Manny he will not have that edge because the PacMan is still physically capable of keeping up with TB and I think that’s the key to victory. I think that’s how you beat TB, you outwork him. The only way I can see TB winning is if somehow over night he developed punching power. That’s the only way, so I have Manny winning by UD, and I would definitely not like to see a fifth fight vs JJM. He is my favorite boxer but I wouldn’t want to see him get hurt.

Let me move on to a different topic. I wanted your opinion on Canelo vs Lara. I know everyone thinks that Lara is going to dominate my fellow countryman but I can see Canelo beating up Lara by way of TKO. For some reason I feel that Canelo respected Money May too much in their last September mega fight, but I can see it playing out different against the Cuban. And then a week later and I’m crossing my fingers that it happens, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Gennady Golovkin. I’m rooting for Chavez Jr. I think this will be his coming out party. I know you think different but I think that the birth of his daughter has really helped him out a lot. Back to Canelo. This week he announced the he was fighting on July 12 and that he was no longer working with Mexican TV monster Televisa. Now this really sucks because he will definitely not go to TV Azteca, which means that his fights will probably go on to a subscription channel here in Mexico. Now Televisa and TV Azteca are just like HBO and Showtime (but free), Televisa just carries GBP events and TV Azteca carries Top Rank events so I don’t know what will happen. All I know is that this rivalry between networks has to stop! Their feud has an impact here in Mexico as well…

I also read somewhere that you were not making the Las Vegas trip for the Pac-Bradley2 so I hope that you enjoy it from the comfort of your own home and family!!! Greetings from Mexico City – Agustin

I’ll be watching the fights at Coach Schwartz’s pay-per-view party at Rent-a-Wreck in Santa Monica, but as always, my wife and kids are more than welcome to join us.

Too bad about Canelo’s split with Televisa. That terrestrial network is a big part of his popularity in Mexico. I guess the young star figures everyone knows who he is now and he’d like to make more money from the broadcasts of his fights in his home country.

If the Canelo-Lara fight is made, I predict that Alvarez drops the Cuban at least once en route to a UD, and I also predict that the same Twitter nerds that consider Lara a pound-for-pound level boxer will still say Canelo sucks ass.

As for Mexico’s “other” young star, I think you’re correct in assuming that becoming a father will make Chavez Jr. a more mature professionally and human being, but it still won’t be enough to overcome GGG’s surgical onslaught. I think Golovkin will resemble Junior’s legendary daddy in the systematic manner in which he breaks the bigger, heavier man down over 12 rounds.

Regarding the Bradley-Pacquiao rematch, if you’re right about Manny being able to work for three minutes of every round, he probably will beat the American standout. However, I don’t think he can. Pacquiao might have a little more athleticism and a little more left in the tank than Marquez, but I don’t think he can keep up with the hard and fast pace that Bradley will likely set for 12 rounds.

(By the way, I was VERY impressed by Bradley’s performance in the Marquez fight. Also, I think he sits down more on his punches now than he did in 2012. He’ll never be a one-punch KO guy, but look at Provo’s face after 12 hard rounds with “Desert Storm.” Look at how he had Marquez reeling in the final round of their fight. I think he’s hitting harder and it might be a factor in tomorrow’s showdown.)

Pacquiao’s best bet in my mind is to catch and hurt Bradley sometime during the first half of the bout while he can still let his hands go, or clip Bradley late in the fight if the defending beltholder gets greedy and opens himself up by going for a knockout.

Thanks for the kind words on my Head-To-Head analysis in the May issue of THE RING. Our excellent art director Lamar Clark deserves all the credit for the graphics in that feature and every other article in the mag.

 

WHERE ARE THE CUBANS?

Hi Dougie.

Why have three of some of the most gifted fighters in boxing – all Cuban refugees – had so much trouble getting big fights (or any fights at all) in the U.S recently? 

Guillermo Rigondeaux can easily be compared to Floyd Mayweather Jr. as far as his skills go. He's dismantled real killers like Nonito Donaire. And even though he doesn't speak English and does not have an explosive personality or boxing style, he has an extraordinarily compelling story of survival which I believe can and should contribute to his marketability as well as his apparent “unbeatability.”  

And yet, I haven't heard a word about the guy since his last fight last December. 

Yuriorkis Gamboa, on top of having the same compelling story after risking his life to get out of Cuba and onto U.S shores, is an explosive fighter whose relentlessness is evident inside and outside the ring. Gamboa kind of reminds me of a smaller, more skillful version of a young Ricardo Mayorga, at least when it comes to his fighting style. But he hasn't fought in almost a year and has nothing scheduled as far as I know. And it seems like no one's willing to reach out to him for the moment. 

Erislandy Lara is extremely slick and skillful. He has great speed, an outstanding amateur career (as do the previous two), a decent KO ratio and, also, a compelling story of how he made it to U.S shores to become a major player in the professional ranks and is now “realizing the American dream.” Yet his next fight is against a not very well-known fighter by the name of Ishe Smith. 

Why do these guys get so little attention? Shouldn't HBO and Showtime be all over these guys? Is it because of the language barrier? But Mayorga didn't speak English and he became a huge star after destroying Vernon Forrest (his polarizing personality sure helped in that aspect). Canelo doesn't speak any English, and he's soon to become a household name. 

Floyd Mayweather's reputation speaks for itself. Perhaps we can even compare Rigo to a younger Pernell Whitaker, who was put against the biggest and most marketable names (De La Hoya, Trinidad, Chavez). 

I wonder if Lara's name would be all over the media if he had red hair and pale skin while still being a Cuban immigrant who speaks only Spanish. I wonder if Rigondeaux were a 140-147 pound fighter who spoke fluent English and had a truly expressive and polarizing personality, would the networks be fighting over him? 

I wonder if Gamboa were a little bigger, died his hair red and smoked cigarettes in the ring after all his fights and publicly lashed out at his opponents, would he be getting way more title shots and soon be on the cover of The Ring magazine? 

Something is definitely missing from all three of these naturally talented athletes who, skill wise, are near the top of the food chain in the boxing world but who, unfortunately, are treated like nothing more than the plankton near the bottom of the ocean when it comes to their marketability, which I find rather perplexing.

What's your theory, Dougie? Hope you're doing well! – Rob from Longwood, Florida 

I’m doing fine, Rob, probably better than those three Cubans (LOL). No, seriously, I don’t need to theorize why those talented Cuban boxers have such a hard time moving forward and upward with their careers. I know exactly why. Here’s the main three reasons: 1) boring styles, 2) lack of personality, and 3) unreasonable demands/poor business decisions.

I agree that Rigodeaux is an elite-level boxer, perhaps comparable to the lightweight version of Pernell Whitaker. The difference is that “Sweet Pea” is an American Olympian who fought on national TV as an amateur and a pro prospect and who had some personality to go along with his superb boxing skills. “El Chacal” has the personality of an egg plant. And though he’s every bit as effective in the ring as Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Andre Ward – both of whom are also criticized for being “boring” – his style is amateurish. And amateur boxing is simply not popular among paying crowds in the U.S.

I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember, but Whitaker’s boxing style was heavily criticized by casual fans and much of the sports media in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. How did he overcome the criticism? By going up in weight, fighting the best, and by adopting a more professional style (i.e., standing his ground more and settling down on his punches). Is Rigo willing to go up to featherweight and junior lightweight the way Whitaker was willing to go to 140, 147 and 154 pounds? So far, the answer is no, which is too bad because his TV ratings and general fan appeal isn’t going to entice any U.S. network to go after him.

You ask if “Rigondeaux were a 140-147 pound fighter who spoke fluent English and had a truly expressive and polarizing personality, would the networks be fighting over him?” They would no doubt be more interested in him. The heavier a fighter is, the more attention he will get in the U.S., and a bright personality always helps market a fighter. That’s just the way it is. But even if Rigo had personality and spoke English, he’d have a difficult time getting significant fights because of his style. 

I gotta be honest with you, Rob, I couldn’t watch all 12 rounds of his fight with Joseph Agbeko.

Same deal with Lara’s UD over Austin Trout. You ask if Lara “would be all over the media if he had red hair and pale skin while still being a Cuban immigrant who speaks only Spanish.” I don’t know. That’s a question for Cuban fans. You see, you and I can dismiss Canelo as a Ronald McDonald-looking MoFo, but the fact is that he appeals to a large segment of Mexican boxing fans. They are the foundation of his popularity and of his potential crossover success. They find him charming and entertaining. It doesn’t matter if we get it or not. We’re not the ones buying the tickets, tuning in en mass, or purchasing the pay-per-view shows. The Mexican fans are. Are the Cuban fans doing the same for Rigo and Lara? I don’t think so. It is what it is.

I don’t feel as sorry for Rigo and Lara as you do because I think both boxers have done well. Rigo’s last five bouts have been televised on premium cable in the U.S. His WBA title bout vs. Rico Ramos was on Showtime, his title defenses vs. Teon Kennedy and Roberto Marroquin were on HBO Pay Per View, his shot at RING champ Nonito Donaire and the Agbeko fight were on HBO (and he was paid well for both of those fights).

Most of Lara’s pro career has been on basic cable (ESPN or Fox Sports), HBO or Showtime. His technical draw with Vanes Martirosyan was on HBO. His life-and-death struggle with Alfredo Angulo was on Showtime, as was the Trout fight. Yeah, his scheduled bout with Ishe Smith is on Fox Sports 1, but that’s nothing to scoff at. Smith is an American veteran and a former titleholder; and fighting on FS1 helps spread Lara’s name and talent to casual fans.

And even though Lara’s still sort of under the radar, he’s being targeted for Canelo’s July 12 return to the ring. That’s the fight every 154-pound fighter wants. Lara might get it, despite his lack of ratings and fanbase.

Rigo might get lucky and have one of these confident young guns – such as Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton or Scott Quigg – call him out. I think it will happen sooner rather than later, perhaps after the mandatory Santa Cruz-Frampton showdown. The little guys at the top usually fight each other.

As for Gamboa, his struggles in the game aren’t due to his style or personality. “El Ciclon de Guantánamo” has a dynamic style and isn’t camera shy or above trash talking on social media. In other words, he attracts attention, which is a good thing. What has hurt him are his choices business choices. He beefed with Arena-Box at the wrong time, made the decision to pull out of the Brandon Rios fight (which was the perfect launch pad for greater popularity in the U.S., plus a stronger relationship with HBO and Top Rank), and then signed with unproven novice promoter 50 Cent.

And to be honest, Gamby hasn’t really impressed me since his fourth-round TKO of Jorge Solis back in March of 2011. Since signing with 50, he struggled with Michael Farenas and bored most of us with his 12-round decision over Darley Perez. HBO still wanted a showdown with Mikey Garcia but word is that Gamboa priced himself out of that fight. That’s messed up if that’s true because he’s in no position to act like the A-side in that potential matchup.

Would Gamboa be getting more love if he “were a little bigger, dyed his hair red and smoked cigarettes in the ring after all his fights and publicly lashed out at his opponents?” Yes, but only if he backed that brash attitude up in the ring, as Mayorga often did, and only if he was willing to fight as often as the Nicaraguan Wildman was during his prime years.

 

HBO, THREE MUST-SEE FIGHTS, KEITH THURMAN

Hi Dougie,
A first time writer/long time reader looking to pick your brain on a few topics:

What's your take on a poor 2014 on HBO? In 2013, I had them narrowly outpointing Showtime on a 10 point, 12 round, month by month system. For the first quarter this year though I'd say the only high level, near 50/50 match ups they put on were Pascal-Bute and Salido-Lomachenko. The second quarter doesn't look much better. Froch-Groves II is a high level, near 50/50 match up but that's being imported from the UK rather than something HBO itself is putting on. The entire featherweight Macau card looks well matched but that's only going out on HBO2. Apart from that all we're seeing is HBOs 'big names' in mismatches or PPVs, or lower level matchups. If I were a subscriber I'd be severely unhappy.

I was very happy to see Frampton to come through at the weekend as it means that one of my top three most anticipated matchups is one step closer to happening (Frampton-Santa Cruz in case you hadn't gathered, the other 2 matchups being Garcia-Uchiyama and Superman vs The Krusher). If you could have any three fights happen this year what would they be?

What's your recent take on Keith Thurman? In my opinion his career has been stalling since the Chavez fight, with Soto Karass and Diaz representing sidewards and backward steps respectively. I rank him as being Golden Boy’s best welterweight and if they don't deliver him a big fight by the fall I think he should be looking to cross the promoter/network divide. Top Rank/HBO would surely be delighted at having another legit contender for Pac/Bradley/Marquez to face.

And I couldn't write and not ask for your take on some mythical matchups:

Joe Frazier – Evander Holyfield
Steve Collins – Carl Froch
Tommy Hearns – Bernard Hopkins
Ricardo Lopez – Roman Gonzalez.

Cheers. – Ali, Scotland

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ali.

HBO’s boxing programming has been a disappointment so far in 2014, but I think it’s going to get better as we enter the spring and summer months. The two scheduled HBO PPV headliners (Bradley-Pacquiao II and Martinez-Cotto) are competitive matchups in my opinion. The May 17 Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado fight (a Championship Boxing broadcast) from The Forum in my neck of the (Ingle)woods should deliver, as should the Bryant Jennings-Mike Perez/Daniel Geale-Matthew Macklin doubleheader on May 24, and the Froch-Groves II (I don’t care if it’s imported from Britain, they chose to air it and it should be another rockin’ super middleweight fight).

So the month May kicks ass (especially if you include that HBO2 card from Macau).

I’m not that excited about the June 14 Ruslan Provodnikov-Chris Algieri/Demetrius Andrade-Brian Rose. However, if HBO can help make Chavez Jr.-Golovkin a reality (and somehow keep it off PPV), that will more than make up for their dismal first quarter.

And who knows what the second half of 2014 might bring? Maybe we’ll get Ward vs. Chavez or the Froch-Groves winner. Maybe we’ll get Golovkin vs. Geale or Kirkland, or Kirkland vs. Curtis Stevens, or Sergey Kovalev vs. Jean Pascal. We’ll just have to wait and see, but it can only get better… right?

The three fights I want to see most is Stevenson-Kovalev (which sadly probably won’t happen anytime soon), Golovkin-Chavez (which looks like it’s almost a done deal – Hallelujah) and Stevens-Kirkland (which is possible).

I don’t know if Thurman is Golden Boy’s best 147 pounder (since Mayweather is technically a GBP fighter), but I definitely think he’s one of the best welterweights in the world and I’ve been high on him a lot longer than many of my boxing writer peers.

I agree that his last two bouts have been lateral moves as opposed to forward progress. Thurman’s gone from fighting former titleholders to a fellow undefeated up-and-comer (Chaves) to back-to-back gatekeepers (Jesus Soto Karass and Diaz). However, I think the Soto Karass fight was good for him. I saw him put some boxing moves together in that fight that I know he’s been working on. He seemed to mature a little bit more during the course of that fight and development is what this game is all about. Who knows? He might grow some more during the Diaz fight. If not, it still serves as a stay busy fight and another showcase for the young boxer-puncher.

If “The Thurmanator” takes care of biz vs. Diaz, he will be in good position to take one of the better-known welterweights of the GBP stable, such as the Shawn Porter-Paulie Malignaggi winner, the Amir Khan-Luis Collazo winner, and Adrien Broner.

Onto your mythical matchups:

Joe Frazier-Evander Holyfield – Smokin’ Joe by close decision in a brutal, classic slugfest. Holyfield would rock Frazier early, they’d go toe-to-toe like a couple of a bantamweights in the middle rounds, and then Frazier, who would be the busier of the two, would drop the Real Deal late in the fight to seal the deal.

Steve Collins-Carl Froch – Froch by close decision in a good scrap.

Tommy Hearns-Bernard Hopkins – I usually go with “The Hitman” vs. any boxer, but Nard is so rugged and nasty, he might be able unnerve and break down Hearns without applying constant pressure. Still, Hearns’ incredible jab, hand speed, monster right hand, long reach and underrated footwork would have given B-Hop fits. I think Hopkins had the fresher legs, better chin and slightly better ring generalship. This is a tough one to figure out. I’m gonna have to b__ch out and call it a draw.

Ricardo Lopez – Roman Gonzalez – Lopez by a close, up-from-the canvas decision in high-intensity power chess match.

 

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

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