Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Friday mailbag

STEVENSON, FROCH, GROVES

Dougie,

What can I say about Adonis Stevenson that hasn’t already been said through your mailbags? I’m disappointed this fight isn’t leading up to a Sergey Kovalev showdown. It wasn’t too long ago that I was telling my friends (I’m trying to suck them into fanhood) that Stevenson vs Kovalev, and GGG vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. would make them all boxing fans. I’ve learned to not be surprised. I expect Stevenson to win fairly easily by KO in the mid rounds. What do you expect?

I can’t wait for Carl Froch vs George Groves II. I know you are expecting Froch to take Groves more seriously and to pull out the victory. I want to go on record and say that Groves wins this fight clearly. Eight rounds to 4 or 9 rounds to 3. I think Froch got the TKO last fight with a combo of big fight experience and referee luck. The main point I took away from the last fight was that Groves looks better than Froch. I expect the experience of the last fight to give him the maturity, grit, and training camp he needs to win. We’ll see, because nothing will surprise me in this matchup.

Bob Arum claims that a PacMan vs Sergio Martinez fight is possible if Martinez wins. I would LOVE for this fight to happen. PacMan should be a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 underdog. Do you believe this fight will happen? If this happens and if Pacquaio wins, (come on and join imaginary land with me) how much ground does he gain in your all time list? 

Keep up the good work. – Jordan from NC

Thanks Jordan. Be careful listening to what Arum – or any promoter – claims. He’s just tossing potential plans out there to see if anyone is interested. It’s just words and fodder for Twitter debate until Martinez and Pacquiao win their next bouts and their representatives actually sit down and begin negotiating in earnest.

For argument’s sake, if Martinez-Pacquiao was made (and not at some ridiculous low-150-pound catchweight) and the Filipino hero beat the lineal middleweight champ, I would definitely consider that to be an all-time great move.

However, there’s no point in any of us pontificating too much about Arum’s “teaser.” There are too many fascinating matchups that have actually been made (three of which – Froch-Groves II, Martinez-Cotto and Canelo Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara – we’ll see in the next two months) that deserve our attention.

I’m as guilty of this as the any fight junkie, but I think hardcore boxing fans are too desperate for certain matches to be made. A promoter or manager can merely bring up the possibility of a fight being made and Twitter nerds react like it’s a done deal.

A prime example is Stevenson-Kovalev. Yeah, HBO wanted it. Main Events and Kovalev wanted it. Us boxing geeks wanted it in the worst way. But Stevenson never once acted like HE wanted it. His pride kept him from totally dismissing it during interviews and in social media, but it was obvious that Kovalev is at the bottom of “Superman’s” hit list. However, hardcore boxing nuts are such geeks they couldn’t accept the truth.

Let me put it to you this way, if you met a hot girl at a club, asked her to give you a call later and she answered your request the same way Stevenson answered questions about fighting Kovalev during Max Kellerman’s post-fight interview (after the Tony Bellew bout), would you really expect to get that call?

Hot girl: “I don’t have a problem with calling you, as long as your money is right. But there are two other guys I’d rather call. Let’s put it to a vote with the people here at this club. ‘Hey party people! Who do you think I should go out with – that charming, popular British gent or the rich, old guy from Philadelphia?’”

Desperate nerd (sounding a lot like Kellerman): “So you’re more interested in those guys?”

Hot girl: “Yeah, I don’t have a problem with calling you, but right now, my friends and most of the 'in-crowd' here at the club want to see me with that British bloke or that mature guy because they’re worldly, they’ve been around for awhile, they’ve got money, and people know them.”

You’d have to be one pathetic MoFo to think that you were going to get a call after being blown-off like that.

Anyway, we ain’t getting’ Stevenson-Kovalev any time soon. We’ve got Stevenson-Fonfara tomorrow. I think it will be entertaining while it lasts. Fonfara’s got guts, decent technique and some experience. He’ll try to make the most of his opportunity. However, he’s outclassed in terms of talent, versatility and athletic ability. Stevenson should overwhelm Fonfara before the seventh round.

Regarding Froch-Groves II, nothing would surprise me either. Groves has the edge in youth, natural talent, athleticism and technique, but Froch is more battle tested, experienced and tenacious, and – this is just a hunch – I think he’s mentally stronger than the Londoner.

Groves’ efforts to have the British Boxing Board of Control change the result of his first bout with Froch to a No Contest, his demands to promoter Eddie Hearn not to include any UK officials in the rematch, and his bold predictions of an early KO, give me the impression that the 26-year-old contender is unraveling a bit, mentally.

But we’ll find out next Saturday. I can’t wait. The first fight was as dramatic as boxing gets from the opening round up until – and including – the controversial stoppage.  

 

WHAT ABOUT THE TRAINERS?

I'm a professional basketball player, but I truly love boxing and I never miss a mailbag. Thank you. 

Like in basketball we have Phil Jackson, Greg Popovich, and Doc Rivers. Their greatness is based on their ability to come up with a winning style, multiple strategies and having the ability to manage strong personalities. So why don't we talk about boxing trainers more?

I think what Angel Garcia has done is amazing considering Danny's limited talent, speed and skill. Look at what Robert Garcia has done with Marcos Maidana and Mickey Garcia, who I think highly of. I've seen Virgil Hunter get on his knees and whisper to a fighter. Not to mention that Nazim Richardson is currently training a 49 year old for a unification fight with Adonis Stevenson. And finally, Floyd Sr. took the best fighter in the world and made him look significantly better.

I think we are really in a golden age of trainers and they aren't getting acknowledged.

With that said who are your top 10 trainers of today considering this criteria: style, training technique, and in corner skills?

Thanks. – Dread Draper

Thanks for the interesting question and the kind words Double D.

My top 10 world-class trainers (off the top of my head – I’m sure I’ll leave some deserving veterans out) are: Robert Garcia, Freddie Roach, Ronnie Shields, Virgil Hunter, Joel Diaz, Floyd Mayweather Sr., Nacho Beristain, Adam Booth, Pablo Sarmiento, and Nazim Richardson.

(My personal favorites include: Ken Adams, Rudy Hernandez, Abel Sanchez, Joe Goossen, Fritz Sdunek, Robert McCracken, Sugar Hill, Pedro Diaz, Henry Ramirez, Angel Garcia and Ulli Wegner.)

I agree that there are many quality active boxing trainers. There aren’t any old-school masters such as the recently departed likes of Emanuel Steward (who developed Thomas Hearns, among other world-class boxers, and rebuilt both Lennox Lewis and Wlad Klitschko), Amilcar Brusa (who developed Carlos Monzon, among many other champs), Bill Miller (who developed James Toney) and Bouie Fisher (who developed Bernard Hopkins), but there are many well-rounded teachers and trainers.

Personally, I think today’s trainers do receive a lot of credit for their work. A great boxing mind (the dearly departed Don Familton) once told me that today’s trainers get too much credit when their fighters win and receive too much of the blame when their fighters lose.

Bottom line: today’s trainers are as much a part of the promotion and pre-fight media build-up to major fights as the fighters themselves. Thanks to the way boxing writers cover the sport today and premium cable programs such as 24/7, top trainers like Roach and Garcia are better known to the general public than 90 percent of the active boxers in the world. I would argue that Roach is as well-known and respected now as Angelo Dundee was in the 1970s and early ‘80s, maybe more so.

If you bring up any elite active boxer to a hardcore boxing fan, he can name his trainer.

But how many hardcore fans can name Sugar Ray Robinson’s or Willie Pep’s trainers? Most can’t, including fans that are into boxing history and have read up a lot on those two all-time pound-for-pound greats. Think about that. Robinson and Pep are arguably the two best boxers ever and very few know who taught them how to box. Why is that? I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think it’s because when they were in their fighting primes (the 1940s), the trainers weren’t the primary focus of sports writer's stories about boxing and most didn’t seek out the spotlight.

 

WILL MONEY FORCE FLOYD’S HAND?

Hi Doug,

Big fan, faithful reader. I'm sure you knew probably before I did, word is the ppv buys for the Mayweather-Maidana fight are coming in less than a million. For those of you keeping score, that's 2 out of 3 "under performances" for Pretty Boy Floyd. My question is, do you think this pattern will force Floyd to move out of his comfort zone again like he did going up against Canelo Alvarez after the Robert Gurerro fight undersold? I mean, no way he's getting past a million going against Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, or Danny Garcia. MAYBE Amir Khan but he's out for September and I honestly don't think a rematch with Maidana will do it either.

I'm not holding my breath for Pacquiao yet, but I think a string of low PPV sales would do more to push Floyd into that fight than any amount of Twitter cajoling from Muhammad Ali or anyone else.

Anyway, that's what I got. Thanks for listening. Best from NY. – Sean

I agree that the Guerrero fight doing less than 1 million pay-per-view buys helped all the parties involved (Mayweather, Alvarez, Golden Boy, Showtime, Mayweather Promotions, Al Haymon) make Floyd’s second fight of his CBS/Showtime contract the very successful Mayweather-Canelo PPV event.

Mayweather-Maidana doing less than 1 million buys will also create pressure among the powers that be to put on a more successful event for Floyd’s September 2014 PPV date. I agree that Porter, Thurman and Garcia are not yet viable PPV B-sides, and since Canelo is still in the rebuilding phase after laying an egg vs. Mayweather last September and Khan will be observing a religious month of fasting this September, Mayweather’s options for a marketable PPV opponent is limited.

I think Cotto, whose management maintains that he is a promotional/network free agent, is the perfect “B-side” if he beats Martinez next month, but even if the Puerto Rican star wins, I think Sept. 13 is too quick of a turnaround for him (especially if the June 7 challenge turns out to be a grueling battle).

So who does that leave? Maidana. And lucky for Mayweather and Co., I think the rematch can be built and hyped into PPV event that sells 1 million buys. The surprisingly competitive nature of the first bout (many fans – myself included – thought it could have been a draw), plus questions if Mayweather is slipping or if Maidana can improve on his performance will fuel interest in the return bout.

In the meantime, if the “Cold War” of the U.S. boxing scene cannot be thawed, Haymon, Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions are going to have to work overtime to help develop a challenger for Maywether that the public is willing to pay to see. If the winner of Porter-Kell Brook takes on the winner of Thurman vs. a worthy opponent (such as Lucas Matthysse), I think the winner of THAT showdown could be built into pay-per-view opponent for Floyd.

And then there’s Canelo, but the popular redhead has to take care of business against Lara before anyone will take him seriously in a rematch with Mayweather.

 

THE GREATEST (SALESMAN) OF ALL TIME

Hi ya Dougie,

I’ll begin by kissing your mulatto arse as you so poetically put it. I count your opinions as the best in all of the boxing forums I have engaged in over the years, and thoroughly enjoy your Monday/Friday mailbags; keep up the top notch work!!

I will begin with a spoiler alert, especially as I know you have a particular fondness for the subject (lol!), this letter is about the ‘greatness’ of Floyd Mayweather, and as such I do not expect to make your mailbag, but a reply nonetheless would be great.

I just wanted to gauge what the public mood is across the pond to him of late? I ask this as in various forums here in England, FMJ is fast hurting whatever legacy he believes he is creating, with people I know who have defended his greatest tag over the years starting to become irked by his lack of real, genuine challenges, especially recently.

Names such as the obvious Manny Pacquiao, GGG and Sergio Martinez (both of whom have offered to come down in weight to fight him) add to opponents such as Ruslan Provodnikov, Erislandy Lara, Tim Bradley and even Amir Khan, as fights one who regards themselves as great surely should be taking on.

Added to this, if you look back on his previous seven fights, to me at least, only Alvarez stands out as being of high quality, prime opposition and worthy of ‘great’ labelling. No disrespect meant to the other boys, but Marquez was made to fight at 144lb when he had been fighting at 130lb and never above 135lb. Sugar was close on 40 years of age and the shop-worn version (why didn’t this fight take place a 5-10 years earlier?). Cotto had been already been beaten by his great rival Manny Pacquiao whilst Ortiz, Guerrero and Maidana were all tailor-made for his style and image. 

I just cannot imagine for a moment the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran or Muhammad Ali, i.e. the TRUE greats, to let that amount of opposition slip them by, regardless of whether they won or lost.

My theory is this Doug; Floyd IS the greatest, but at nothing more than marketing and sales. At this I doth my cap to him. He has made a ridiculous sum of money cherry picking his way through a good portion of his career. In fact I throw this analogy at you Doug, FMJ reminds me of a Ferrari; potentially, it could be involved in top class races around Silverstone at 200 mph, but it is used for nothing more than hundred yard sprints between traffic lights in suburban areas against souped-up Fords and Renaults, designed to do nothing more than look good. 

And with talk of a real slump in PPV sales for the Maidana fight, and no chance of Floyd taking any of the fights I mentioned, meaning that a re-match with Maidana looks ever more likely, my question is this Doug; am I being overly critical of the man and his accomplishments over the last five years, or is the resume of Floyd more packed out with cherry’s rather than diamonds?

Thanks Doug. Take care. – Chris R

I think you’re being critical – which too many people label as “hating” these days – but not overly so.

Any rational-thinking individual who takes a close look at Mayweather’s vaunted 46 consecutive pro victories notices that it lacks bona-fide hall of famers (or potential hall of fame inductees) who were at their best at the time he faced them, and this includes people who are fans of Floyd’s and consider him to be a great boxer.

RING magazine editor Michael Rosenthal enjoys watching Mayweather practice his craft. He think Mayweather is arguably the best boxer of his era, but he won’t rank Floyd among the all-time greats. Why? He tried to compile a chart of 10 current or potential hall of famers that Mayweather has faced during his 18-year career for the June 2014 edition of THE RING and he couldn’t do it.

Rosenthal could only come up with seven names – Cotto, Mosley, Marquez, De La Hoya, Genaro Hernandez, Arturo Gatti and Ricky Hatton – and when he examined period in their careers when they faced Mayweather he came to the conclusion that they were either past their primes (Cotto, Mosley, Marquez, De La Hoya and Hernandez) or overrated (Gatti and Hatton).

Rosenthal wrote about this in Ringside, the opening editorial of the June mag. It has to be noted that, unlike me, Rosenthal has never been accused of being a “Mayweather hater” by peers or fans. He’s just being real, as you are.

I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat it, I think Mayweather made the same mistake that Roy Jones Jr. did 15-20 years ago – he squandered his prime years playing it safe and making “easy” money, which is a shame because both U.S. Olympic medalists are ultra-special talents who would have likely prevailed in their sternest challenges as Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard did in most of their super bouts.

I don’t think that all of Mayweather’s and Jones’ high-profile opponents were cherry picked but the bottom line is that both were far too good to cherry pick as much as they did.

If the Mayweather-Maidana PPV “underperformed” it’s because Maidana was viewed as a “cherry pick” for Floyd. Fair or not, a relentless, rugged bastard like Madiana was not viewed as threat to Mayweather (as the 12-to-1 odds in his favor suggested) and as a result there wasn’t much interest domestically for their fight.

You asked me “what the public mood is” here in the States regarding Floyd. I don’t want to speak for all the fans but my feeling is that many have become tired of Mayweather’s pre-fight act. The attitude and personal drama that was portrayed on Showtime’s All Access and written about ad nauseam in the build-up to the Maidana fight has been seen before, year after year, going back to six or seven years. It’s become trite.  

If the public can’t get up for a rematch of what turned out to be a tougher than expected fight, Mayweather and Company might have to do something drastic to rekindle interest in Mr. TBE (which might be just what the sport and the industry needs).

 

RESPONSE TO ‘SUSPICIOUS’

Hi Doug, 

I just wanted to say thank you for printing my email and responding to it even though you did not agree with what I said about Marquez. I completely understand your stance but one thing I will say is that Marquez never had this kind of one punch knockout power, especially against bigger guys that are not exactly running into his punches. But like you said, we will never know until evidence is found. – Karl, Brunswick, Georgia

Thanks for not getting bent out of shape about my journalistic stance on Marquez and the unfounded PED suspicions like some fans did with their Disqus comments under this week’s Monday mailbag.

I disagree with your opinion that Marquez never possessed one-punch KO power. I watched him as a fan and covered him as a cub boxing writer 15-20 years ago and I recall the young featherweight version knocking many tough cats out cold with one shot.

I think he could have stopped more opponents than he did at 126 pounds and at junior lightweight but he didn’t seek out the KO back then. He was a pure counter puncher and a careful technician back then. If a fighter made a mistake that allowed Marquez to apply “the finisher” then he would do so, but he never went out of his way to take a guy out. (Even so, he stopped more than a few world-class veterans and card-carrying tough guys, such as Manuel Media, Daniel Jimenez, Robbie Peden and Marcos Licona.)

I think he was gun shy for a couple bouts (the Orlando Salido and Victor Polo fights) after being dropped three times in the opening round against Pacquaio in their first bout (10 years ago, can you believe it’s been that long!?). But that all changed after Marquez felt that he got jobbed in Indonesia against Chris John.

From that point on (starting with his breathtaking beatdown of Terdsak Jandaeng in August 2006), Marquez changed his style. He wasn’t just a counter puncher anymore. He developed into a combination-punching technician who would go toe to toe with anyone and had no problem going after an opponent who didn’t come to fight.

Yes, he’s knocked out naturally bigger fighters and his more-talented arch nemesis in bouts at lightweight and welterweight, but he’s had to work his ass off and endure a lot of punishment to score those KOs. He’s not just waltzing into the ring and cold cocking fools prime-Tommy Hearns style.

 

PED TESTING

Hey Dougie,

I want to thank you for your response to the VERY SUSPICIOUS email about Marquez, his power and rumors of his PED usage in the Monday mailbag. I've been arguing with other fans for years, ever since Mayweather got on his soap box to preach about being clean, which I never hear about from him anymore. Our top fighters only fight twice a year, giving them at least a four month windows to take a test after their last fight, start doing steroids to help recover from the training of that fight and get stronger for the next. One month out from their next fight they can start, quit and start cleaning up, coming in squeaky clean for the first blood test. And of course the more money you have to spend on PEDs, the less chance you have of getting caught. Without that year around testing, like true Olympians are subjected to, there is no such thing as Olympic-style testing. And no, I don't trust the USADA either.

But to the point, what is the state of PED testing in pro-boxing today? The last story I heard about it was a March 29th story in Ring about Tim Bradley being double-tested prior to his fight with Pacquiao. And even a story like that is getting pretty hard to find. I get a bad feeling that the boxers, the promoters and the commission are all hoping the whole issue will just go away and we won't notice. Yours. – Don

I don’t think the issue of effective PED testing is going to go away. There’s too much suspicion and speculation among fans and boxing insiders, and there are elite fighters like Bradley and Donaire, who suspect that some (many?) of their peers are doping, and want to show the public that they are clean by submitting to extra testing. Check out the homepage of the official website for VADA. It looks like other respected fighters (from boxing and MMA), such as 122-pound champ Guillermo Rigondeaux, UFC star Georges St. Pierre, and Ruslan Provodnikov and Chris Algieri in advance of their June 14 WBO 140-pound title bout, are “taking the test” (as Jean Pascal implored Bernard Hopkins to do going into their 2011 rematch).

However, like I stated in Monday’s mailbag, if the stars and pound-for-pound elites – such as Mayweather, Hopkins, Andre Ward, Wladimir Klitschko, Pacquiao, Marquez, Martinez, Cotto and Canelo – don’t voluntarily undergo year-around random Olympic-style drug testing and make the results of those tests (such as their testosterone levels) public, the titleholders and up-and-comers of the sport aren’t going to feel the pressure to do so and most of high-profile boxers will remain suspect.

 

 

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

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