Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Monday mailbag

StevensonFonfara-lands_Trap

STEVENSON-FONFARA

Hi Doug.

Wow! What a pleasant surprise. I was expecting a blowout and a fight happened.

I have to admit that Andrzej Fonfara was a lot tougher than I, for one, expected. Adonis Stevenson went after him and hit him with the kitchen sink, tool box and toilet but somehow just couldn't get him out of there.

Then came the shocker. Stevenson was clearly hurt as he got up from that ninth round knockdown and Fonfara looked on the verge of scoring a huge upset.

Fonfara went after him in a very controlled way but somehow wouldn't throw caution to the wind and let the punches fly in bunches, something which I think was a mistake. Then again, maybe those lefts and body shots that Stevenson hit him with earlier made Fonfara think twice or maybe even took such a toll that he simply couldn't throw any more punches than he did. Do you agree that he should just have gone for broke?

Stevenson fought back like a champion in the next round and won a deserved decision but Fonfara deserves credit for a gritty effort. He clearly came to win and not just to get paid and I hope that he will be rewarded with another high profile fight. 

His challenge also showed everything that is good and bad in the champion.

Adonis Stevenson is fast and he moves and boxes well. He clearly hits like a ton of bricks. But he is also vulnerable when nailed down and can be knocked out. But, hey, it’s all good for us, the fans, as win or lose, I am certain that he will provide us with more drama in the future.

If someone can take him out of his game, make him lead and not follow him around the ring like Fonfara did, something may happen. And who is more well known for taking other fighters out of their game plan than his likely next opponent, WBA and IBF champ, Bernard Hopkins? I can almost hear the gears turning in the head of the old master. I'm still on the fence with this one but I more and more get the feeling that Hopkins does have a shot at pulling off another incredible win. How do you see that one playing out? 

Lastly, I have to wonder just a little bit if there is a reason other than TV network affiliations and money why a fight with Sergey Kovalev has been put on ice. If it was Kovalev in that ninth round instead of Fonfara would Stevenson have made it back to the dressing room with his belts? What do you think?

Keep up the good work. Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

I don’t think Stevenson would make it to the final bell vs. Kovalev, but I also think the power-boxing southpaw has a shot at catching the Russian Krusher first. If Stevenson (with the help of Father Time) takes down the legendary B-Hop, I hope the Kovalev showdown can still be made.

However, I think Hopkins will get in Stevenson’s head before they even step into the ring and quickly neutralize the one-armed bandit once the physical fight begins. I like B-Hop by decision, but again, I don’t want to sound like I’m counting Stevenson out. He remains a dangerous handful for any light heavyweight in the world despite the vulnerability he showed against Fonfara.

I think the tough 12 rounds he went with the uncommonly durable and brave Polish Prince will serve him more than his previous three title bouts. It’s good for fighters to have to battle through adversity from time to time. Stevenson showed (us and himself) that he’s got the stamina to go 12 rounds and the heart to get up and battle back from a knockdown. He can dig deep if he needs to – and he will definitely need to against Hopkins and Kovalev.

Fonfara definitely deserves a lot of credit for bringing out Stevenson’s flaws and character. Should he have gone for broke against Stevenson in Round 9? Absolutely, but as you noted, that’s way easier said than done. I’m sure he was just as tired as the champ was and his arms and body had to be aching from all those body shots he either blocked or absorbed in the previous seven rounds.

Anyway, Fonfara will only grow from this experience and I’m sure the next time he gets a guy in trouble – especially in a world title fight – he’ll try like hell to finish the job.

I’d love to see Fonfara back on premium cable as soon as he’s ready. I think he could expose Eleider “The Drizzle” Alvarez or make for a really good adopted hometown scrap against fellow former title challenger (and Chicago native) Cedric Agnew.

 

TWO OUT OF THREE AIN’T BAD

Doug! What's going on, my friend? How have you been? Sexcellent, I hope. I wanted to say a few short things about the fights this weekend plus some mythical matchups, if you don't mind.

You know who I don't find the least bit intriguing? Those damn Charlo brothers. Yes, I understand they have many fine fistic qualities; I just don't care to watch them. Jesus. I had to force myself not to have any alcohol during his (surprise!) 12 round snooze fest against Charlie Ohta or else I'd be in a coma for the rest of the night.

David Lemieux is exciting as all hell. I don't care how far he goes, he is fun to watch. He represents everything that I love about boxing. I love the way it looks when a guy fully commits to his punches the way Lemieux does. Such ferocity.

What can I say about the main event that everyone else won't be saying? He was in tough. I like the way he came back after being gassed and dropped. He showed a lot of heart. Obviously the question everyone will be asking is if he can do that when he's in with the Krusher. I'd say there's a lot we don't know about Kovalev still. Would he be able to take the shots that Fonfara did? Speaking of Fonfara, what a tough sonofabitch. It was, for the most part, a great night of boxing in my opinion.

Mythical matchups:

Kostya Tszyu vs. JMM. I think Tszyu could possibly stop him late. Probably eke out a decision, though.

Kostya Tszyu vs. Pacman. I honestly can't decide. Is Pac too dynamic and aggressive for Tszyu? We all know he didn't deal with that style very well. Or does Tszyu clip Pac with a laser guided straight right? I think if JMM can do it, so can Tszyu. Thanks, Doug! Take care! – Jon

I’ve been a massive fan of King Kostya’s from way back, so unless someone "mythically-matches" him with a crazy relentless slugger – the only style that ever did him in as a pro – or against a great 140-pounder, I’m generally going to pick him (which pisses off some fans — sorry ass SOBs who aren't as sexcellent as I am).

I think Marquez is tailor-made for Tszyu’s style. JMM’s a counter-puncher and he’s too small. I think Tszyu gradually picks him apart in a bout that is competitive during the first half but becomes a beatdown late.

And I think Tszyu catches the in-and-out PacMan cold before the late rounds. It takes constant pressure and consistent offense (as Vince Phillips put forth) or the non-stop swarming/smothering approach (Ricky Hatton gave) to break down Tszyu. Pacquiao is dynamic but he fights in spots/bursts, and I don’t see his in-out-and-around style getting it done vs. Kostya at his best.

I agree that there’s a lot we still don’t know about Kovalev. We haven’t seen him extended and tested in a title bout yet, as we just witnessed with Stevenson. We probably won’t see the Russian puncher tested until Stevenson or Hopkins dares to face him.

Gotta love Lemieux. His performance against Fernando Guerrero is the definition of a “Take-No-Prisoners” mentality in the ring. I want more. Showtime’s Jim Gray asked him about fighting the winner of Peter Quillin-Daniel Jacobs, and if that’s Showtime’s plan, sign me on. That’s a good fight. I don’t know if he’s truly earned a title shot (and the same can be said of Jacobs) but I wouldn’t count him out against either American standout.

I’d like to see Lemieux against some RING-rated middleweights before we see him go for the gold, even if it’s against the lower top-10, such as Billy Joe Saunders (No. 10), Curtis Stevens (No. 9) and Hassan Ndam Njikam (No. 8). Those are all good fights (especially the matchup with “Showtime”) in my opinion.

A rematch with Marco Antonio Rubio (No. 6) could also be interesting. Revenge is good. It’s part of boxing.

I like the Charlo brothers. I think they are among the most talented American up-and-comers and believe both will one day win major world titles (at least one belt each). However, I don’t always enjoy watching them box, especially Jermell, who has numbed my blood-thirsty brain more than a few times (his off-TV – lucky for ya’ll – 10 rounder with Dashon Johnson, his 12-rounder with Demetrius Hopkins and his recent bout with Ohta immediately come to mind; even the Gabe Rosado and Harry Joe Yorgey victories were generally uneventful).

In Jermell’s defense, however, NOBODY looks good against guys like Johnson and D-Hop.

I think if Golden Boy Promotions and Al Haymon want fans to start cheering for the Charlos the way Showtime’s commentators do whenever they’re on the network, more aggressive opponents are needed for the Houston natives.

Look at Julian “J-Rock” Williams. His last three opponents were come-forward fighters – two faded Mexican vets (Orlando Lora and Freddy Hernandez) and a rusty young fringe type in Michael Medina – and what happened? The Philly native earned impressive knockouts in generally entertaining fights and the Twitterverse is buzzing about him like he’s a future star.

I’m not saying the handlers of the Charlo twins should toss either brother to a killer like James Kirkland. They aren’t ready for that. But they might be ready for a shopworn but still serviceable badass like Alfredo Angulo. That matchup is worth a Showtime main event.

If a name like Angulo isn’t available, a rugged come-forward veteran like Luciano Cuello should suffice. Cuello is tough and experienced enough to test either brother and make for a decent fight. Or a fellow up-and-comer such as Willie Nelson (who Cuello extended last year) could help create more excitement. Nelson has the height, reach and athleticism to match the Charlo’s but he’s a more offense minded boxer.

 

SUPERMAN’S HITLIST, FROCH-GROVES II

Hey Douglas,

I didn't see the Adonis Stevenson-Andrzej Fonfara fight, but if Superman had to struggle like that to get past Fonfara what would have happened if that were Sergey Kovalev in there instead of huge underdog Fonfara?

I also wonder if Superman-Krusher is destined to be the next Pacquiao-Mayweather. The fight that should happen but never will.

Another thing. If jumping to Showtime was strictly a business move on Stevenson's part why didn't he just stay in HBO in the first place? He could have made some really huge bucks fighting Jean Pascal in Montreal and everyone else from Gennady Golovkin to Carl Froch to Mikkel Kessler to Julio Chavez Jr. At Showtime their only cash-cow at 168-175 is Hopkins and that's pretty much it.

As for Froch-Groves 2 the common view here is that Froch will come in more focused and get the knockout he was on the verge of getting last time. I'm not so sure on that one. I'm no expert on British boxing but I don't think this is a case of Rahman knocking out an over-confidant Lennox Lewis and then getting demolished by a more focused Lewis in return.

Groves sure looked like the real deal to me. The way he battered Froch in that 6th round was like he was driving a railing spike in Froch's noggin. He sure looked closer on scoring that knockout than Froch ever did. Now I'm not dissing Froch here. He's one of my favourite guys to watch and he might indeed finish what he left off. But I won't be surprised if it's Groves who picks up where he himself left off. It's 50-50 books.

I also noticed that Froch was still mentioned as a possible Stevenson opponent even after "Superman" hid behind Al Hayman so he can make dumb faces at Kovalev. Does that mean if Froch wins he'll jump to Showtime and gun for Stevenson? Anyways, holler back. Thanks man. – Dave

Froch will have his hands full with Groves, as you noted, but if he wants to move up to 175 pounds and challenge Stevenson he won’t be “jumping ship” from any U.S. network. The British veteran doesn’t have an exclusive deal with HBO; neither does Kessler or Pascal. Chavez might if he signs an extension with Top Rank, but he may be looking at other options.

Bottom line, Stevenson has more than one lucrative option on Showtime, but that doesn’t mean he’ll stay there for the rest of his career. Stevenson has a savvy promoter in Yvon Michel, who has always worked both sides of the street.

Will Stevenson-Kovalev go the way of Mayweather-Pacquiao? Well, for starters, it was never that big of a potential fight (and probably never will be). It’s more like Yuriorkis Gamboa-Juan Manuel Lopez (a hardcore fan’s wet dream). Neither light heavyweight has been beatdown as JuanMa was; both are still major titleholders and both are still highly regarded, so the ship obviously hasn’t sailed on that matchup yet.

I think the shelf life for Superman vs. Krusher will probably extend to the end of next year, unless Hopkins totally undresses Stevenson (which is possible). If that happens, then yeah, I guess Stevenson-Kovalev goes the way of Riddick Bowe-Lennox Lewis (or Ray Mercer), Fernando Vargas-David Reid, or a dozen other “can’t-miss” matchups that never happened.   

 

NOT-SO SUPERMAN, THE NEW FEROCIOUS ONE

Hey Doug,

I don't know how long David Lemieux will last but properly matched he is fun to watch. I think that he deserves to take over Fernando Vargas' nickname: Ferocious.

Stevenson won't get past Kovalev. And maybe not past Hopkins (I can't pick against Hopkins anymore). Good fight though and a lot of heart shown. Kudos to Fonfara. – Stephen, Montreal

Kudos to both Fonfara and Stevenson. Yeah, Stevenson has his limitations – such as defensive holes and being overly reliant on his straight left – that both Kovalev and Hopkins can (and probably will) take advantage of. But he also has strengths (apart from his speed and power) that could trouble his potential rivals, such as a solid jab, decent lateral movement and a very good body attack.

We’ll see what happens when Stevenson tries to unify the 175-pound titles.

I can see Lemieux being “El Nuevo Feroz.” He looks ready to kick some serious ass, as Vargas always was, but he doesn’t seem as complete a boxer as the 1996 Olympian and former two-time junior middleweight titleholder. Vargas had a hell of a jab (when he remembered to use it) to go along with his excellent technique.

Vargas won his first major belt at age 21 and he was probably already past his prime by the time he was Lemieux’s age (25). But we’ll see if Lemieux can win one world title, let alone two. Right now, I’d pick most of the top-10 middleweights to beat him, but maybe he’ll change my mind with his next fight or two.  

 

PEOPLE NEED TO LAY OFF STEVENSON

Doug,

I haven't written in a while, been busy. Anyway, I just don't see why everyone is on Stevenson's d__k! If he doesn't want to fight Kovalev, man f__k Kovalev. Who the f__k has he beaten? People kill me, people need to worry about their own f__king lives, everyone wants to force other people to do s__t they wouldn't do. I feel the same way about that as I do Pac/Floyd, man, f__k both of them if they don't want to fight. I am not going to stay up all night crying because they won't fight, they will fight who they fight and if I don't want to watch, I won’t. 

Here is the thing, who wouldn't want to fight Hopkins for far more money than Kovalev? I mean really! Seriously! You are talking about fighting a LIVING LEGEND, a sure fire first ballot hall of famer, and ALL TIME GREAT, vs some tough son of a bitch that nobody has ever heard of. I for one am MUCH happier that Stevenson is fighting the GREAT BHOP. I was hoping he eschewed Kovalev for Hopkins, because I want to see my pappy do the unthinkable. Maybe it is because I am a diehard BHOP fanatic (not news to you!). 

But seriously, who would take a paycut to do more work? Would you quit your job to work for 25% of your salary on a job with a start up where you could be fired at any time with shaky financials and have to do significantly more work? Not no, but hell no! None of these other a__hole fans will either in their personal lives. Stevenson got a much better deal, much better opportunity, much better money, and security with a long term contract. I'm sure Stevenson LITERALLY DREAMED of fighting BHOP as a kid and people expect him to give it up now to fight some tough a__hole just because HE needs the fight!? Just like guys are going to fight Floyd over anyone, or RJJ in his time, etc. Guys angle for the biggest opportunity, the biggest stage, the biggest money, etc. Hell, if Kovalev was in Stevenson’s position HE would fight Hopkins for more money, etc, etc, etc. As a matter of fact, didn't BHOP offer to fight Kovalev and that p__sy turned it down? He chose an easier fight, am I right on this? F__k Kovalev, Main Events, Kathy Duva, HBO and everyone else pissed off about this. They didn't lock the deal down, end of story.

Maybe I'm getting old now, but all of the whining is getting on my nerves. It reminds me of my dad, he's 74 now and we asked him why he was being so aggressive and he said "because I'm an old mutherf__ker and we don't get along with other people!" lol. – JCB

I’m starting to think you’re related to Hopkins. But like that crazy old badass, you make some sense during your ranting and raving.

However, one clarification: Kovalev was never offered a fight with Hopkins. He was the mandatory contender for B-Hop’s IBF title. Main Events and Team Kovalev were prepared to enter negotiations with Hopkins but they got a direct offer to challenge then-WBO titleholder Nathan Cleverly, so they took it. Why? Because it was an easier deal at the time. They didn’t have to enter any tough negotiations or a purse bid with Welshman. All they had to do is travel to Wales (and kick his ass).

In a manner of speaking, it was a better deal for Kovalev at the time. And you’re absolutely right, fans shouldn’t completely piss themselves over Stevenson going for a better deal (from Showtime) for the Fonara fight, or lose their s__t over his desire to face Hopkins.

B-hop makes for the much bigger fight in Montreal and he presents Stevenson with the opportunity to beat a bona-fide legend. So Stevenson is going to try and fight Hopkins first. Fighting Hopkins won’t be as dangerous or punishing as fighting Kovalev, but it won’t be easy. In fact, it will be more difficult – technically speaking.

Regardless, you’re absolutely correct that every single hardcore fan who has bitched and moaned about Stevenson’s decision would have done the exact same thing if they were in his shoes.

However, you’re incorrect in assuming that those same fans demand to see Stevenson-Kovalev because the Russian punisher “needs the fight.” They demand Stevenson-Kovalev because THEY want to see a crazy shootout between two fearsome punchers. And just like I can’t blame Stevenson for wanting to fight Hopkins, I can’t blame fans for wanting to see an all-action punchfest.  

 

Photo / Stephanie Trapp-Showtime

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

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