DOWN THAT LONG DARK ALLEY
Dougie P Fresh!!
The last time I reached out to you was to wax poetic about Old Man Popkins. Need I say more after Saturday night’s performance? Some young chap wrote in either the last mailbag, or the one before that… minimizing the Philly Master's accomplishments. Spitting in the wind if you're an educated boxing fan. Trust me when I say this: Beibuit Shumey is no joke. People may dismiss this win… but just follow that guy from now on and see how he fares against the best at light heavy. People who mix it up with these guys have always spoken highly of him, self-trained and all.
Hopkins commanded the ring because he could. Anywhere the fight went, B-hops was at home. Even the way he staggers out sideways after throwing a sneaky right-hand lead is controlled so that he can stop and counter if you dare follow him. Hopkins is indeed that man down the dark alley. I'm going to say it Dougie… I think he takes 'Superman' to school too. Bookit.
Good to see my beloved Shawn and Kenny Porter shine too. If they ever read the mailbags, I hope this one makes it and they know I'll always support them. Truly classy guys, both father and son and role models for many other young black men to follow.
Welp… now that I've been nice… Man, Porter got all up in Paulie Wallnutz behind like that cheap thong he wore to the weigh-in, didn't he? I'mean damn… I LOVE Paulie too. Even Al Bernstein had trouble commentatin on such a brutal assault. Shawn knew what he was going to do and went after it. I honestly think he out-boxed Paulie too though. VERY impressed with the way Shawn now keeps his head clear of harm's way as he bores in, or exits the zone of engagement. I honestly think a fight with him and your Florida lovechild from one of you and K-9's many Miami 2LiveCrew parties, Keith Thurman , would be a barn burner. Who would you pick to take that one..? – Joseph B.
Porter vs. Thurman is one of the best matchups that can be made at 147 pounds. Both young guns are smart, dedicated boxer-punchers in their athletic primes who seem to improve with every fight. As high as I am on my "Florida lovechild," after the way Porter looked vs. Devon Alexander and poor Paulie, I’m not sure I’d pick anyone not named Mayweather or Pacquiao to beat the Ohioan. (And I’d make Porter a live dog to upset his famous former sparring partner.)
Having said that, I wouldn’t be shocked if Thurman showed me something during Saturday’s fight with master gatekeeper Julio Diaz that makes me think he’s got what it takes to beat Porter.
The Porters are role models for everyone in boxing and a lot of folks outside of this crazy sport, regardless of their racial background, but I agree that it’s heartwarming to see an African-American father-and-son team as mentally and spiritually healthy (as well as successful) as they are. They remind me of the Mosleys back when Sugar Shane was in his prime, but I think Kenny is more focused on boxing than Jack was and I believe that Shawn is more mature than Shane was when he was at his peak. I think they have a very bright future.
I agree that Hopkins can beat Stevenson. That won’t keep me from worrying about him if and when he steps into the ring with the power-hitting southpaw.
I also agree that Shumey’s not the joke that a lot of fans and boxing writers are making him out to be following Saturday’s schooling by Headmaster Hopkins. The 2004 Olympian is definitely beatable – especially when he’s facing slick and savvy, world-class boxers like Gabriel Campillo and B-Hop – but he’s a handful for most top-rated light heavyweights. I think he can beat most of the 175 pounders in the WBA’s top 10, such as Tommy Oosthuizen (No. 4) and Sean Monaghan (No. 6); and I’d make him even money vs. Eleider Alvarez (No. 3).
Regarding the ever-growing Hopkins legacy, any fool who tries to “minimize” “the Philly Master's accomplishments” (to paraphrase you) is simply ignorant of boxing history. It’s as simple as that.
Were the “Dougie Awards” your idea? I’m bad at keeping track of that sort of thing. I was going to credit for Capt. Ron for that but please correct me if I’m wrong (regardless, your free Dougie & K9’s “Nasty As They Want To Be” Miami Party T-shirt is being shipped out to you as I write this).
THOUGHTS ON HOPKINS-SHUMENOV, JUDGING
Bernard Hopkins wins another fight at the age of 49. This is incredible because he has defeated some good challengers in Karo Murat, Tavoris Cloud, and Beibut Shumenov. He was just too good and too accurate with his punches and you could see those punches that landed on Shumenov.
Honestly, I thought of CJ Ross when those scorecards were read, 114-113 for Shumenov? I thought I was being quite generous for Shumenov giving him a scorecard of 117-110. But this again shows that there is need for fixing judging. Doing some research online, I think the WBA appointed this judge so my question: Is Sanctioning Bodies appointing judges and referees for their title fights good for the sport of boxing? One example is the WBO appointing referee Lawrence Cole for the Salido-Lomachenko fight and that was one of the worst jobs I have ever seen a referee do in a boxing fight (allowing those low blows without deducting a point from Salido).
I know that many people are a little upset that Adonis Stevenson not fighting Sergey Kovelev but Stevenson has been really adamant in fighting Hopkins or Carl Froch. He should fight whoever he wants to fight because he is the one entering in a boxing ring and getting beaten up for a living.
If this email is answered, I would like to #ThankAlHaymon. – Tim V. Baquir
Don’t forget Sam Watson, his sons, Brandon and Marcus, and, of course, Raccoon Boy (whatever happened to him? I thought he had a bright future)
Stevenson-Kovalev was the fight I wanted to see the most in 2014, but I was very much aware of the hesitation that “Superman” expressed every time the Russian smasher was brought up, so I was doubtful that the 175-pound showdown would take place this year. Now that Stevenson is signed with Haymon and fighting on Showtime in May, I’m not so sure the Kovalev fight will ever happen but I’m still looking forward to watching THE RING/WBC champ fight. I’m hopeful that if Stevenson and Hopkins fight this year that the winner will try to push past promotional/network politics and typical boxing business bulls__t and attempt to unify all the of the major 175-pound titles against Kovalev.
Regarding the judges, it’s the state athletic/licensing commissions that appoint the judges. If a U.S. jurisdiction hosts a boxing card that includes a major world title bout, the commission of that state or territory appoints the judges and referee for that fight from a list of officials that have been approved by the particular sanctioning body/bodies.
If boxing fans and industry folk want better judges I think they need to put pressure on the commissions to screen potential judges better than they have been lately. To get an idea of the proper screening process that should go into appointing judges for a high-profile title bout, read this SecondsOut.com article penned by former NSAC Executive Director Marc Ratner, who happens to be the best boxing commission administrator I’ve come into contact with in my years of covering this sport.
I also think that the managers and fighters involved in major title fights need to pay closer attention to judges who consistently turn in crappy ass scorecards and be on the lookout for these boobs to make sure they don’t get assigned to their fights. The fighters and their reps get to look at the list of judges approved to officiate their bouts and they have the right to turn down individuals and request others. It seems to me that they need to do more of this.
“Incredible” is the best word to describe Hopkins’ recent light heavyweight title run. Despite being closer to 50 than 40, he’s only faced RING-rated contenders, two of whom (Cloud and Shumenov) held major titles. Hopkins has mostly faced top-class opposition since he jumped to the 175-pound division to unseat RING champ Antonio Tarver in 2006. Apart from Enrique Ornelas in 2009 and Roy Jones Jr. in early 2010, everyone Hopkins has faced since the Tarver fight was a top-10, RING-rated fighter (at either middleweight, super middleweight or light heavy). Three of them, Joe Calzaghe, Kelly Pavlik and Jean Pascal, were reigning RING champs when he faced them. (Dawson was the RING champ when they fought their rematch.)
B-HOP: THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND
I'll just start like this, BHOP has accomplished SO MUCH that people just don't pay attention anymore. If anyone did even ONE of the things he did they would be making a big deal about it, but because everything Hopkins does at this point is history, it is downplayed. This dude is 49 and out-quicking and out-slicking guys much younger than him. His reflexes are amazing for a 30 year old, yet alone a 49 year old. When has he EVER run from any opponent in the ring? EVER? He has fought EVERYONE and he is still on top, kicking ass after Felix Trinidad was on top, gone, retired and now broke; Jones, same thing; Toney, same thing (never fought him), Oscar De La Hoya, on top and retired; Jermain Taylor, on top and punch drunk; Pavlik, gone and just drunk; Tarver, gone. Hopkins was here before Oscar, Trinidad, Taylor, Pavlik, Wright, all of these guys and all of them are retired and he is STILL THE F__KING CHAMPION. People are not getting that. He won all 4 titles at middleweight and was champ for a decade, made 20 f__king defenses, jumped to light heavy weight and schooled Tarver in a fight most people though Hopkins would get KTFO in after losing back to back fights to Taylor (Hopkins got f__ked in those fights and didn't lose, the business of boxing beat him). Hopkins planned to retire and wanted one last fight on his 40th birthday and that was Tarver. That was a DECADE AGO and he is still fighting. I remember Hopkns saying way back when that he could fight until 50 if he wanted to and people just thought it was funny, and 10 f__king years later he IS doing it and WINNING CHAMPIONSHIP TITLES, not just f__king around like RJJ. To say that Hopkins is amazing is almost an understatement.
I like Floyd a lot, and the argument could be made about why the fight didn't happen, but Hopkins MAKES FIGHTS HAPPEN. If there is a bad man in the division, Hopkins wants him: Trinidad, Tarver, Dawson, Pascal, Stevenson, he makes fights happen. He wants to prove in the ring who the best man is INCLUDING AT F__KING 50!!!!!!!!
I mean, he is the three oldest men to win the title – won from Pascal, then Cloud, then Shumenov, on all three of those he was the oldest man to win titles. Let's back track a second, Hopkins knew that Dawson's style was all wrong for him, and he DID NOT HAVE TO FIGHT DAWSON back when Dawson was highly regarded and he fought him TWICE. He didn't dump the belts for a tailor-made guy for him.
His conditioning, timing, reflexes, ring generalship is something to behold at any age. I mean, he is just better than all the guys he's fighting, period, at any age, but the fact that he is 49 is unheard of. I think we have Hopkins fatigue and at this point basically say “well it's Bernard” as if him continuing to do the unthinkable is just the norm. I guess he has set the bar that high that that is what we think.
Anyway, sorry for the book, but BHOP put on another remarkable display last night, it really is beauty to behold to watch this guy. The subtle stuff he does is amazing, just the way he steps to the left, or back to the right ahead of his man to drop whatever shot he wants, or to move out of position BEFORE his man even gets into position so he can never get set and then Hopkins just unleashes when he feels like it and hits him with whatever the f__k ever he feels like punishing him with: Stiff jab like a power shot, hooks, straight right hands, whatever. Wow! Young guys don't understand these aspects of the game. – JCB
And a lot of young fans fail to grasp the significance of his accomplishments. So what else is new? You’re preaching to the choir, brotha, but your “B-Hop book” made me wonder about the reasons that some fans and media pooh-pooh Hopkins and what he’s done (and what he continues to do).
I think it boils down to four things:
1) He isn’t undefeated. Sadly, pristine records are valued more than a fighter’s accomplishments, strength of schedule and the overall quality of his opposition these days. Hopkins is old school, plus he lost his pro debut, so he was never looking to protect the “0” on his record. He’ll face undefeated ultra-talents like the prime Jones or stylistic nightmares like Dawson and Calzaghe. Guys like you and I respect that. Younger fans view that as a weakness. They actually want their “fighters” to behave more like managers.
2) He’s too old give a damn about “swag” or “bling.” B-Hop is cantankerous S.O.B., but he isn’t a fool. He’s not going to make an ass out of himself for the networks as Mayweather does with the 24-7/All-Access series or Adrien Broner does on social media. You and I appreciate his dignity. Others can’t relate to it.
3) He’s not an ultra-talent. Hopkins is a physical marvel to have lasted this long but even when he was in his prime he wasn’t close to the eye-popping super-talent that his rival RJJ was. He isn’t a dynamic boxer. He doesn’t have explosive speed, reflexes and power that pinheads expect from “star” professional athletes. But he more than makes up for his lack of athletic gifts by being a complete boxer/ring general and well schooled in the finer points of the sport. You find the “subtle stuff he does” to be “amazing.” I’m not as enamored with it as you are but I appreciate it. However, there are a lot of fans who simply can’t see it.
4) Most fans just don’t give a s__t about boxing history. They love to proclaim this undefeated guy or that overhyped guy – from Mike Tyson to De La Hoya to Jones to Mayweather – to be the G.O.A.T. but if you ask them to name 10 all-time greats, they can’t do it, and if they try, they won’t include anyone who fought prior to the 1980s. It is what it is.
THE ALIEN LIVES ON
Doug, first time writing. Big fan of the mailbag, been reading every Mon/Fri for more than a year. I'm amazed that, at 49, Bernard Hopkins is picking up titles let alone unifying them. I can't think of many athletes in any sport being at the highest level past their 40s. I appreciate that Hopkins has mastered the art of not getting hit and hitting his opponent, although it can be boring at sometimes there is an appeal to not see rock-and-sock-em robots all the time. I wonder where Hopkins ranks among best fighters of the past 20 years and how do you compare Hopkins to RJJ’s career and who had the better overall career.
Arturo Gatti v Adrien Broner 140
Hopkins v GGG 160
Hopkins v Sergio Martinez 160
P.E.A.C.E. – JH
Thanks for finally sharing your thoughts with the mailbag, JH. It’s always good to hear from new readers.
You should be amazed by what Hopkins is doing. It’s never been done. There have only a handful of professional boxers who were world-ranked major titleholders past the age of 40. Past the age of 45, you’ve got Archie Moore, George Foreman and Hopkins.
Only a select few active boxers have the talent and technique to be able to box at the world-class level into their mid-40s (let alone their late 40s), THE RING’s current pound-for-pound top three – Mayweather, Andre Ward and Wladimir Klitschko – come to mind, but I seriously doubt they’ll do it.
It could be a very long time – I’m talking 40-50 years – before we see anyone do what Hopkins is doing now.
I also appreciate B-Hop’s ring generalship (his footwork and lateral movement in particular) and I also agree that it can be boring at times. But like you noted, sometimes it’s OK not to witness blood and guts.
We’ll probably get our fill of Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robots with this Saturday’s Showtime tripleheader co-headlined by the Thurman-Diaz and Lucas Matthysse-John Molina fights.
Where does Hopkins rank among the best fighters of the past 20 years? Well, I think he ranks among the best of all time, so obviously I think he’s right up at the top of the cream of the crop from 1994 to the present, which includes his rival Jones Jr., Mayweather, Pacquiao, De La Hoya, the Klitschkos, Calzaghe, and Lennox Lewis.
How do I compare Hopkins’ career to Jones’ career and who do I think had the better overall career? I think their careers are comparable in terms of accomplishments. Jones had the brighter prime (beating Hopkins and Toney) and he won titles in more divisions (four: middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight), plus he made some history by being the first middleweight champ to win a heavyweight belt since Bob Fitzsimmons. However, Hopkins stayed at middleweight long enough to become the division’s undisputed ruler and to be regarded as one of the best 160-pound champs in history. He’s also broken more historical records than Jones (or anyone else I can think of), including title defense, title reign duration, and being the oldest man to win, defend and unify major belts.
I think Hopkins has had the slightly better career (which is still unfolding). I gotta give Hopkins the edge because I can’t think of any peers of his that he avoided. Jones came up with excuses not to fight too many of the top fighters at middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight when he occupied those divisions (and he was enabled by HBO, the sanctioning organizations and much of the boxing media).
Your mythical matchups:
Arturo Gatti v Adrien Broner (140) – Gatti by hard-fought and (what else?) thrilling UD (Broner proves his toughness as he did in the Maidana fight, but he also shows that he’s susceptible to the left hook as he did vs. Chino and he gets decked a few times)
Hopkins v Golovkin (160) – Hopkins by close but unanimous decision in a very good fight (B-Hop uses his legs to neutralize GGG’s pressure over the first half of the fight, and though the Kazakhstan badass eventually gets the Philly master against the ropes down the stretch of the fight, Hopkins’ chin holds out as he fights effectively off the ropes and in the trenches)
Hopkins v Sergio Martinez (160) – Hopkins by close, perhaps majority decision (Maravilla’s athleticism and awkward in-and-out style gives Nard trouble but the naturally bigger and more technically sound fighter gradually figures the southpaw out over the second half of the bout)
Thanks for your wonderful mailbag. I will keep it short and sweet. Who do you like in these fights:
Shawn Porter vs.
1. Timothy Bradley.
2. Kell Brook.
3. Adrien Broner.
4. Lucas Mathysse.
5. Brandon Rios.
Who do you think he fights next? His dad had a lot to say about the current boxing "cold war" do you see this going away anytime soon?
P.S. Next time you are down South, please pass by Orlando West Soweto, I operate a microbrewery there called Ubuntu Kraal Brewery (www.sowetogold.co.za).
Best Regards. – Ndumiso Madlala, Mulbarton, Johannesburg, South Africa
It’s been too long (almost 14 years since I last visited South Africa). I’m overdue (along with my family) a journey back there. I’ll definitely keep your microbrewery in mind when I return.
I don’t see the Cold War thawing out this year. Maybe next year.
I think Porter will fight his IBF mandatory next, and that’s Brook. I think it’s an excellent matchup, as are the other four that you brought up. Here’s my opinion:
1. Timothy Bradley – I see this as a toss-up fight despite Bradley’s decided edge in experience. But given the aggression, speed, power and all-around game Porter exhibited vs. Malignaggi on Saturday, I can really see him hurting Bradley early and being able to finish off the veteran unlike Provodnikov. However, I’m not going dismiss Bradley just because he’s coming off a loss. I think he’d match Porter in every department except power and employ a similar fight plan as “Showtime” but he’d be a little smarter and a little craftier. The loss to Pacquiao reminds Bradley that he’s not a killer; he’ll make it a battle of wits and he’ll win a close, tactical decision.
2. Kell Brook – Porter by close UD.
3. Adrien Broner – Porter by UD.
4. Lucas Matthysse – Porter by UD.
5. Brandon Rios – Porter by UD or late TKO.
Hey Dougie. How's it going. Long time reader from the houseofboxing days. I was just wondering why The Ring has Kell Brook ranked No. 4 even though he has the worst resume on the list. What has he done that the other guys haven’t? Please help me understand this. – M. Dickson
I disagree that Brook has the worst resume among THE RING’s welterweight top 10 but I agree that he’s rated too high for someone who’s never faced a RING-rated fighter. As much as I like Brook, I’ve pushed (along with other members of the Ratings Panel) to have him dropped lower in the rankings and replaced at No. 4 by Porter.
He’ll get a chance to prove that he belongs among the elite 147 pounders when he challenges Porter.
Email Fischer at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer