Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Friday mailbag

Froch-Hearn-Groves-Wembley

CARL FROCH-GEORGE GROVES 2

To say us British fight fans are excited about Carl Froch V George Groves 2 is an understatement – a record 80,000 people at Wembley, a riveting rivalry with some genuine hatred between the two, plus the near certainty of another great fight. It's not a boxing match it's an event; the type of fight that happens maybe once every 20 or 30 years. I wasn't sure what to make of Andre Ward’s comments that this was just a “domestic fight” and wasn't important because it wasn't being held in America. He's starting to sound a little bitter, jealous even. He may be the best in the division but he'd struggle to sell 8,000 tickets in his home town, never mind 80,000!

One of the things that makes this one so fascinating is the question marks that hang over both guys. Groves has always had people doubting how good his stamina and his chin are and the way the first fight ended didn't exactly dispel these doubts. If you have any such weaknesses then I don't think you can beat Froch. Even if you out box him for a while, “the Cobra” will catch up with you at some point.

As for Froch my concern is that he grew old overnight in the first fight. I don't think Froch can afford to put in another performance like he did in last time. If he is slightly over the hill and he can't bring his A-game then Groves has proved he is good enough to take advantage.

As for a prediction, I actually think it will be similar to the first fight. Although I think Froch will be more disciplined this time, stylistically Groves will always give Froch problems and I see him winning the early rounds again but, as ever, Froch will come on strong and stop Groves in the later rounds. – Cheers, Mark

I view this fight exactly as you do, Mark. I think it’s a huge sports event, the kind that comes around in boxing once a decade – or once every other decade – and I don’t view it as a “domestic” or “regional” fight as our reigning super middleweight champ deems it. (Dre is definitely suffering from a bad case of sour grapes.) I think Froch-Groves has global appeal. If you’re a real boxing fan, you’re into this fight. The fact that HBO is airing it live speaks to that fact. I’m just going to be watching it on TV but I’ll still have goose-bumps during the fighter introductions and serious butterflies during the early rounds.

I agree that the key questions going into the rematch revolve around Groves’ stamina and Froch’s age/wear and tear. And I also agree that Groves’ style will always trouble Froch, but the Cobra will weather the early storm from the younger, fresher, faster man and strike late in another good scrap. (Hey, great minds think alike, eh? Unless, of course, Groves makes liars out of us both, which is possible.)

I’m good with any outcome as long as the fight is entertaining (and how can it not be when Froch is involved?) and there’s not too much controversy. If Froch wins, he officially joins the “UK Super Middleweight Legends Club,” which includes Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Steve Collins and Joe Calzaghe. If Groves prevails, we get some new “elite-level” blood in the 168-pound division.   

OPEN SCORING, FROCH-GROVES II

Hi Dougie,
Firstly, it occurred to me that boxing is the only sport in the world where the competitors don't know what the score is. Footballers (it’s not called soccer!) know when they're two goals down, golfers know they're 3 shots off the lead and, presumably, baseball players know they're 17 doodleflops ahead of the guy with that bat (my knowledge may be a little questionable on baseball).

What’s your opinion on the boxers knowing the scores throughout the fight? If they enter the 10th round knowing they're 5 points down, they know they need a knockdown. Surely that's an advantage to them and the fans?!

Secondly, Froch v Groves. I can only see this fight panning out one of two ways, and they both depend upon Groves. IF Groves can stay focused, box and not get drawn into a fight using his superior jab, footwork, reflexes and hand-speed, he wins 100 times out of 100. However, if he gets drawn into a fight (and I think he will), that's where it gets interesting. Froch is the master of the toe-to-toe but Groves is no shrinking violet and it will end in fireworks. However, you have to favour Froch in this scenario. Do you think Groves can resist the fight?
 
Mythical matchup with a difference:
Sergio Martinez (at his peak) v Wladamir Klitschko

Now, I don't mean this in a p4p sense. I mean literally as they are. Middleweight v Heavyweight. It is a biological fact that if the jaw is dislocated, the brain blacks you out; hence fighters popping each other on the chin. Any man, regardless of size, has the ability to dislodge another man's jaw. Hell, a man can knock out a cow! Martinez has KO power and far superior speed. Could he dart in and out, avoid the clinches and the jab and land flush on his chin?!

I sometimes wonder if the reason heavyweights can't compete with middleweights isn't that they could kill them with a punch but that it would be embarrassing if they lost and the sport of boxing would be somewhat ruined.

Answer if you want; ignore me if you feel like it. Cheers! – Matt, Bedfordshire, England

“Answer if you want; ignore me if you feel like it.” What’s that, Matt? Reverse psychology? I guess it worked!

Yeah, I guess it’s possible for a middleweight to KO a heavyweight. If we took seven of the best middleweights on the planet and put them in with seven heavyweight journeymen, green prospects or faded former contenders, I wouldn’t be surprised if the 160 pounders beat the big men 7-0, 6-1 or 5-2. However, heavyweights the size and caliber of Wladimir Klitschko are another story. Wladdy knows how to box and how to use his massive frame effectively. And he hits very, very hard; harder than any middleweight has ever been cracked.

Klitschko would control Martinez’s in-and-out movement with his jab and, sooner or later, he would land his right hand and the fight would abruptly end.

There are some ultra-talented middleweights and all-time greats from the past who had the strength, speed and power to have a good shot at catching, hurting and KOing world-class heavyweights – Charles “Kid” McCoy, Stanely Ketchell, the middleweight versions of Sam Langford, Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, Thomas Hearns and Roy Jones Jr., and maybe even Iran Barkley – but Martinez isn’t one of them.

Can Groves resist a toe-to-toe fight? That’s might be THE most important question going into Saturday’s much-anticipated rematch. I think the answer is yes, he can, but he probably won’t given the magnitude of the event and the animosity between the combatants. And even if Groves can resist the urge to battle it out with the older man, he shouldn’t! Not with all the s__t he’s been talking about how limited and crude Froch is and about how he’s going to KO the veteran (calling the round and even the punch – left hook – he’s going to do it with). When one talks that much smack, he’s got to back it up in the ring.

I never liked the idea of open scoring. I’ve seen it applied without controversy or complaint outside of the U.S. (with WBC-sanctioned title bouts in Japan and Mexico) but I’ve yet to witness it go over well in America (all the broadcaster, media and hardcore fan griping during and after Canelo Alvarez’s unanimous decision over Austin Trout last April comes to mind). I’ve yet to witness open scoring have a positive effect on either fighter when announced late in the fight (Trout really didn’t step it up when he learned he was down on the cards, and Canelo coasted to victory instead of closing the show; Marc “Too Sharp” Johnson did the same thing 15 years ago when he found out he was comfortably ahead on the cards vs. Ratanchai Sor Vorapin in their IBF 115-pound title bout, which featured open scoring).

 

THE EVENT OF THE YEAR

Hey Doug,

Just wanted to give my input on this weekend’s fight between Carl Froch and George Groves.  I saw the first fight and to me it was the best fight of the year.

Yeah, it had a kind of inconclusive ending, but watching it with my dad at a local bar at 2 pm in the afternoon on a European network was one of the best experiences I’ve had with boxing in the last couple of years. 

Yes, I barely knew George Groves, but ever since I’ve been listening a little bit more to foreigners’ opinions and I’ve come to realize that Mexicans and Americans tend to forget that the world is round and that there are other countries that produce phenomenal boxers and that they are also pretty darn good.   

I heard some opinions of George Groves by some fellow English fans and I had to take their word that this guy was as good as any super middleweight out there. So there you go, he was, and he impressed me. That, plus both of these guys’ weird personality has me so pumped up for the rematch that I just can’t wait!  

Their Faceoff was one of the weirdest pieces of television based on boxing in recent memory. George Groves staring reminded me of Chris Eubank, a cold, lifeless stare that just has to make you go crazy! When he says that he thinks that Froch is a liar and then doesn’t answer why, was one of my all time favorite moments in face-off history. Loved it!   

80,000 people in a single arena/stadium has to be the largest crowd for a boxing fight since Julio Cesar Chavez destroyed Greg Haugen in Mexico City. That itself

is mighty impressive. Guys like Floyd Mayweather and specially Andre Ward should take a look at this and see if they could achieve the same kind of ticket sales. I hear that Mayweather himself can’t sell out the MGM grand consistently. I’m just impressed how these guys have managed to spark England’s imagination, I just wonder if a Canelo-Chavez Jr fight would be able to sell out Estadio Azteca or if Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather could sell out Cowboys Stadium. You think it’s doable? It does make me wonder. 

After careful thought I’m picking Carl Froch to knockout George Groves inside 10 rounds in a grueling matchup where skill and experience will triumph over youth and sheer determination. I love Groves, though, and would love to see him win.  He could potentially be England’s next Ricky Hatton in terms of popularity. He has that “it” factor that is missing in most fighters.  

By the way, does 2014 seem like one of the most boring boxing year in recent memory?  Hope this fight starts off a great second half of the year, we sure need it.   This “Cold War” is definitely destroying our sport. See you soon, Doug. – Juan Valverde, Tijuana

You know it, Juan. And, hey, if the Cold War destroys boxing in the U.S., at least we know that the sport still exists – and does quite well – in other countries. We’ll have to meet up at the next big UK boxing event (maybe Carl Frampton vs. Scott Quigg).

I don’t think 2014 has been the most boring boxing year in recent memory. It certainly hasn’t been the most exciting, but it’s not like there hasn’t been any good fights. I’ve witnessed three thrillers from ringside right here in Southern California during the past five weeks – Matthysse-Molina, Stiverne-Arreola and Marquez-Alvarado. There will be more. I’m sure of it.

I’m going with Froch by late stoppage, too, however, with me it’s a gut pick. If I devote enough “careful thought” to the matchup, I’ll probably go with Groves. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m high on the young man just like everyone else, but I’ve grown fond of Froch watching him battle it out with the best 168 pounders over the past five years and I want him to have one more big win. So I’m going with my gut, which is usually the right thing to do with Froch.

If Groves wins, I don’t know if he’ll be as popular as Hatton was, but I hope he journeys to the U.S. as the Hitman did. I’d love to see “Double G” take on the likes of Ward, Junior, GGG, and Kid Chocolate.

However, like you noted, the game is strong on his side The Pond and other parts of Europe (mainly Germany). Groves can enhance his legacy and make a great living fighting Froch in a home rubbermatch, taking on James DeGale in a rematch at home (provided the Olympic champ beats Brandon Gonzales tomorrow), inviting Mikkel Kessler to London to get some (or facing the Great Dane in Denmark), or traveling to Germany to take on Arthur Abraham (or Felix Sturm if the Sturminator is willing to step up to 168 pounds).

Could Mayweather-Pacquiao or Canelo-Chavez Jr. draw 80,000 fans to any North American arena/stadium? I seriously doubt it. The mania over the May-Pac megafight has died down in recent years and both Canelo and Junior are still trying to prove themselves after coming up short against elite opponents.

If Mayweather and Pacquiao fought at Cowboys Stadium in 2010 I think they could have drawn 90,000 (instead of Pac attracting 50,000 vs. Joshua Clottey in March of that year). But neither superstar nor his team was willing to strike when the iron was hot, so they missed the opportunity to do something really big and truly special in my opinion. Whatever. I’m over it.

Bring on Froch-Groves II!

 

WARD’S PROMOTIONAL B.S.

Hi Dougie, love the mailbag. Just had a few thoughts/questions for you man.

With all of this BS going on about Andre Ward and these promotional disputes, I can't help but think it only hurts himself the most. After all, you have a lot of top tier fighters fighting 3 or 4 times a year, like GGG, yet Wards' inactivity, in my mind, should drop him from THE RING's list of pound for pound fighters (as dubious as it is). What do you think?

I am curious to know your top-ten list of P4P active fighters.

Who would win between modern-day B-Hop and 96'-97' Evander. As big as a Lennox fan as I am, I believe that Holyfield always had a chance against Lewis and one punch could have turned those fights around. So two years earlier, Holyfield would have beat any bigman. Just Sayin'.

Anyways, maybe you have an opinion on these topics (I know you do). I would love to hear it and faithfully read what your fans have to say twice a week.

Peace. – Steve, Toronto, ON

Thanks for the kind words, Steve.

What’s the deal with these middleweight-vs.-heavyweight mythical matchups? I know Hopkins is now a light heavyweight and about as well-schooled as a boxer can be, but the late-1990s version of Holyfield was just too damn strong and busy for B-Hop to contain. I gotta go with the Real Deal by late stoppage.

Now, if you were talking about the 2000s version of Holyfield that was befuddled by naturally smaller, slicker boxers Chris Byrd and James Toney, I’d go with B-Hop (even the 49-year-old version).

My top-10, pound for pound, list?

Mayweather, Ward, Klitschko, Pacquiao, Roman Gonzalez (yes, I have “Chocolatito” in my Top Five, and anyone who disagrees with this placement is officially – now and forever – a “punk bitch”), Marquez, Tim Bradley, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Sergio Martinez and Froch.

Regarding Ward’s promotional legal battle and the inactivity it is causing – yes, it probably hurts him more than anyone else. I’m pretty sure he’s aware of this. He’s fought twice since earning THE RING super middleweight championship by outpointing Froch, while the Englishman will have fought five times (counting this Saturday’s rematch) since that setback (and all but the Yusaf Mack bout have been big fights).

Ward’s inability to get a fight made will gradually detract from his marketability, but it won’t affect his pound-for-pound ranking until he’s been out of the ring for one full year without having a bout scheduled. If Ward doesn’t have a fight scheduled by mid-November of this year, he will be dropped from THE RING’s “mythical” rankings (which I suppose will be a big freakin’ deal to the hardcore boxing fans who are hopelessly obsessed with such matters – especially the nerds who rip the mag’s pound-for-pound top 10). One year of inactivity won’t bother Ward’s divisional ranking in THE RING because we recognize him as the champ of the 168-pound division, however, if he does not schedule a fight at his championship weight for 18 months the Editorial Board will have the option of stripping him of THE RING title.

 

LATE THOUGHTS ON MONTREAL SHOW

Hey Dougie,

I’ve wanted to email you for a while because I enjoy your mailbags but I always forget over the course of the weekend. Whether I make your mailbag or not, I have a few comments on the fights over the weekend.

It’s been awesome to see Montreal become such a vibrant fight scene over the last few years. Quebec hockey fans tend to make a pretty bloodthirsty crowd and with fighters like Jean Pascal, Adonis Stevenson, Bermane Stiverne, Dierry Jean, Lucian Bute and David Lemieux, the events rarely disappoint.  

I was particularly impressed with Lemieux over the weekend. It’s always fun to see Lemieux go for broke against journeyman opponents but I had previously believed that he lacked the footwork and lateral movement to be effective against stick-and-move boxers. I think we’ve seen some big improvement with Lemieux since his 2 losses. He’s made some important adjustments and I was impressed with 2 things mainly: he used good footwork to effectively cut off the ring against Fernando Guerrero instead of following him around the way a lot of pressure fighters tend to do; he also kept a very tight defense while unloading bombs whenever he had Guerrero on the ropes. When you see fighters throw with that kind of power and frenetic pace they usually become vulnerable by opening up their defense and throwing wide shots. Lemieux kept his chin down and was very controlled with his power shots, covering up with the opposite hand while throwing hard and accurately. We have yet to see him fight a top ten fighter but I wouldn’t count him out against anyone, if only due to his insane punching power.

I don’t know how I missed him in the past but this was the first time I had even heard of Jermell Charlo. He’s a very good technician and I look forward to seeing him fight in the future; but what I found most striking was how much he reminded me of Fitz Vanderpool at his prime. Fitz is a good friend of mine and I’ve been lucky enough to train with him for years. Charlo has that same stance, footwork, and overhand right, almost a carbon copy, what do you think?

On a completely unrelated note, Adrien Broner often opens his mouth when he shouldn’t, usually obvious in front of the media, but I would like to point out that he very literally lets his mouth hang open during fights. One of the cardinal rules of boxing is to bite the mouthpiece and breathe through your teeth or nose when you punch, he breaths through his open mouth. He’s been getting away with it so far but one day he’ll get his jaw broken and when he does, remember I called it. Take care. – Mylo from Timmins, ON 

I will do that Mylo. Thanks for the kind words about the mailbag. It’s nice to know there are fans (you and Steve) in Ontario, Canada, who appreciate what I do.

I haven’t really noticed that Broner’s mouth hangs open during his fights. I have noticed that he lets out a yelp (making a “Hap!” sound) every time he punches and I figured, soon or later, someone’s going to nail him while making that noise. It probably did happen a few times in the Maidana fight.

Vanderpool did indeed have a stick-and-move style that is similar to Charlo’s (Jermell and Jermall). Jermell’s style and technique in particular is very close to how Vanderpool boxed as an amateur and early in his pro career.

“The Whip” was a little more savvy (with upper body movement and inside game) and a little more aggressive, and Charlo has more snap on his punches, plus better legs and balance, but the two are similar in many ways. Glad you appreciate Jermell. Most of the emails I received from U.S. fans ripped him for not being an all-action badass like your boy Lemieux.

Speaking of “Lemmy,” what’s not to like about the power-hitter? He did indeed cut the ring off well, as you noted, and he didn’t screw around once he got in close to poor Guerrero. I’m going to hold my opinion on his footwork and ring-cutting ability until I see him in with a competent mobile boxer who I know has a good set of wheels. Guerrero’s legs and confidence were in question coming into the Lemieux fight.

There’s no questioning Lemieux’s power, however. That’s realer than Real Deal Holyfield. I love his compact combinations, the variety in his punch selection, the economy of his shots and his ability to crack with either hand.

He’s still young (25), but I think his people should give him a couple more step-up fights and then turn him loose against Kid Choclate or GGG. Who wouldn’t want to see those title showdowns?

Montreal is definitely one of the worldwide hotbeds for boxing. And it’s probably going to host some significant light heavyweight bouts (such as Stevenson vs. Hopkins or Pascal vs. someone) over the next 18 months.

 

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

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