Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Friday mailbag

Photo by Chris Farina-Top Rank

Photo by Chris Farina-Top Rank

CARRIED AWAY WITH COTTO

Hey Doug, I hope you're doing well. 

First off, I want to congratulate the new champ for doing what no other Puerto Rican fighter has done before. Miguel Cotto did what was he was supposed to against Sergio Martinez, however. I think everyone is getting carried away with praise and claims like Cotto's finest performance of his career, new and improved Cotto, etc. 

What we saw last Saturday was no different than when Cotto fought Yuri Foreman and his busted-ass knee. You're supposed to look great when your opponent has a handicap and has limited mobility. I can beat up a crippled any day, too. It's much like when Canelo Alvarez pounded on “El Perro” or Manny Pacquiao beat up Brandon Rios in that they were both stationary opponents. Freddie Roach is getting far too much credit for this supposed "improved" Miguel Cotto, too. Delvin Rodriguez has provided us with some entertaining bouts but he is far from world class. 

And, Maravilla has a shot knee/s so we don't know if Cotto is really improved. After Martinez was pulled or pushed down three times in the first round, he steadied himself, and even with the bad knees, began to make Cotto miss a lot his combinations, rocked Cotto's head back with some stiff right jabs and marked up Cotto's face, and won some middle rounds. Again, congratulations to Cotto and his fans but come on, he beat a broken man. 

S__t, you or I could probably out run Usain Bolt if he's suffering from a pulled hamstring and isn't 100 percent healthy… but that's not saying much. Cotto's win amounts to about the same thing. Thanks again Doug. – Hugo

If Bolt had two broken ankles and bad case of malaria, we would still eat his dust on the track, but I hear what you’re saying. Cotto did what he was supposed to do given the physical state that Martinez entered the ring in.

I agree with you to a point. I think Martinez’s bad wheels gave Cotto an edge in the fight, but I also believe that Cotto needed to be at his absolute best – physically, technically and mentally – in order to take advantage of the aging, fading middleweight champ. And he was. So we have to give Roach some credit for that. And we have to give Cotto credit for two things: 1.Taking it to Martinez from the opening bell, and 2.fighting the middleweight champ in the first place. Everybody in boxing knew that Martinez’s once-formidable ring prowess was gradually diminishing after witnessing him struggle with Darren Barker and Matt Macklin, nearly get stopped by Junior in the final round of their fight, and then barely outpoint Martin Murray. For years, Martinez had publicly stated that he was willing to kill himself by boiling his body down to as light as 150 pounds to entice Mayweather or Pacquiao to fight him. But Cotto was the first “name” fighter to accept his challenge. The Puerto Rican star gets points from me for rolling the dice, even if – in retrospect – it wasn’t that much of a gamble.

Cotto looked like an old burnt-out veteran after going 12 rounds with Austin Trout in December 2012. Although you can certainly dismiss Rodriguez as a second-tier fringe contender and write-off Martinez as “damaged goods,” you have to give Cotto (and Roach) credit for taking care of biz so well in both fights that most of the boxing world has forgotten about his setbacks against Trout and Mayweather, his down-to-the-wire struggle with Joshua Clottey, as well as his beatdowns at the hands of Pacquiao and Margarito. Yeah, Martinez has suffered a lot of wear and tear in recent years, but Cotto has also been through the proverbial meat grinder. But he’s been able to revamp his career after many of us wrote him off, so you can’t blame fans and media for rooting for the guy or perhaps over-celebrating his recent form and latest accomplishment. Boxing folks love a good “come-back” story.

Would I be shocked if Cotto suddenly looked like a faded veteran again when in against a strong young gun like Canelo or a healthy middleweight in his prime like Gennady Golovkin or Daniel Geale? Not at all. But for now I’m more than happy to give him his time in the spotlight.

 

COTTO-MARTINEZ/PROVO-ALGIERI/GGG-GEALE

Dougie,

What’s up bro?!  3rd time writer (Once published!… maybe twice?) and avid mailbag reader and boxing fan. I just wanted to give you my take on last week’s fight and what’s coming up. First off, I disagreed with you about Martinez. Cotto has been looking really good since teaming up with Freddie Roach and Martinez hasn’t looked great at all in his last few fights. Nothing against him, it’s just that Father Time has caught up with him and what the mind wants, the body just can’t deliver anymore. I figured Cotto would win by late rounds TKO, but I didn’t think it would be as easy of a fight as it was. Martinez should/needs to retire. His heart is still there, but he physically just can’t perform with the elite boxers out there and he risks getting seriously injured. 

As far as Cotto…I really hope that Alvarez wins his fight against Lara now. A Cotto vs. Canelo fight would be awesome! Especially if the winner could fight Mayweather again. That’s something the boxing world would benefit from!

I’m not sure what to think of the Ruslan Provodnikov/Chris Algieri fight. I’m not that familiar with Algieri, but I’ve seen “the Siberian Rocky” fight a lot and I know he’s going to be on this guy the whole time! Hopefully it will be an exciting fight…for as long as it lasts.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Gennady Golovkin next month. I know Geale is a worthy opponent, but I don’t see him making it to the 12th round. My only question is where does Golovkin go after that fight? I’d love to see him fight Cotto, Andre Ward, Peter Quillin, Carl Froch and Mayweather. Bernard Hopkins would be fun to watch as well. We all know that Floyd would never fight him, but what do you think are the chances with the others I mentioned?

One mythical match-up before I go… Prime Kostya Tszyu vs. Ruslan Provodnikov? – Andy, Va. Beach

Siberian Rocky has the style and mentality to break down one of my all-time favorite fighters, but since I haven’t seen Provo in with anyone as tough, talented and technically sharp as Tszyu, I’ve got to go with King Kostya in this mythical matchup. It would be a hell of fight but I think Tszyu’s power jabs, missile-straight right and counter punches would chop the ever-advancing Provodnikov’s face up to a late TKO.

I can see Geale going the distance with GGG. The underrated Aussie is as mobile as he is tough.

Of the champs and titleholders you mentioned as potential opponents, Froch is the only fighter whose balls are big enough to take on Golovkin. I think the Cobra would give GGG a terrific fight but I see the Kazakhstan native stopping Englishman late.

The only boxer you mentioned that I would favor to beat Golovkin is Ward. However, if the super middleweight champ goes this entire year without fighting, I’ll probably favor GGG to beat him were they to fight in 2015. Inactivity is a bitch (just ask Martinez if you don’t believe me).

I think Algieri will pose some stylistic problems for Provodnikov in the early rounds of their HBO-televised WBO title bout, but the Russian’s relentless pressure (which includes ring-cutting ability), brute strength, durability and bone-jarring power will eventually wear the Long Island native down to a middle- or late-rounds stoppage.

Boxing definitely deserves Cotto vs. Canelo (if the redhead proves he’s worthy by decisively beating Lara) and the winner of that fight vs. Mayweather in the most anticipated rematch on U.S. soil since Holyfield-Tyson II. Both mega-fights are possible. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Good going realizing that Martinez was a lame duck ready to be plucked by Cotto before they actually got in the ring. You win a Dougie’s Mailbag “I-Told-You-So” Award, a near $5 value that can be redeemed for a grande mocha at participating Starbucks.

 

COTTO & BOXING HISTORY

Hi Dougie,
I got to give you props for the article about the welterweight-middleweight challenge. You are giving Lee Groves, who is a damn good boxing historian, a run for his money. Some casual boxing fans aren't familiar with the sport’s deep past, such as when there was one champ per division, so could you share your view on lineal championships?  

Given that Cotto just beat Martinez for the lineal middleweight crown it is only fitting to talk about what this win means in boxing history.

(P.S. You think Daniel Ponce de Leon will remain retired or will he pull an Arce?)

Best. – Niku from South Michigan

I think there’s a good chance that Ponce de Leon will stay retired. He doesn’t have Arce’s ego (and I don’t mean that in a negative way – Jorge just loves to fight and he loves the spotlight and fan/media attention) and he also managed his money well. A lot of fans assume Ponce de Leon’s a moron because of his crude “boxing” style, but he’s a smart guy (I’ve gotten to know him pretty well over the past 11 years) and he always knew how to invest his ring earnings (which were substantial, especially during his first title run). His gym in Montebello, Calif., is doing very well, and he also does occasional boxing commentary for various Spanish-language networks.

Regarding Cotto and lineal titles, it’s a big deal to me, but that’s probably because I get a kick out of reading about and watching old fights of boxers who were champions when the sport only had one title per division and no more than 10 weight classes.

Cotto didn’t just win the WBC middleweight belt and THE RING title when he beat Martinez. He earned recognition as the lineal champion because Martinez was the man who beat the man (Kelly Pavlik) who beat the man (Jermain Taylor) who beat the man (Bernard Hopkins). Prior to B-Hop the lineage of the 160-pound division had been broken when Marvin Hagler lost to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987 and then decided not to fight at middleweight again. Hopkins restarted the championship lineage by unifying every major world title of his era (IBF, WBC, WBA and WBO). Hagler did the same thing with his long title reign by the early 1980s (when new sanctioning organization IBF recognized him as “the man” along with the WBC and WBA). The lineage had been broken when Carlos Monzon – the man who beat the man (Nino Benvenuti) who beat the man (Emile Griffith) who beat the man (Dick Tiger) who beat the man (Gene Fullmer) and so on – retired as unified champ in 1977 (he held both WBA and WBC titles, the only two belts at the time) .

Having said all that, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Cotto is the best middleweight on the planet. I think Golvokin is (and I thought he was before Martinez lost to Cotto). But the lineal title holds more weight for me than GGG’s WBA belt.

Thanks for the kind words on my article about past welterweight stars who challenged for the middleweight title. Comparisons to Mr. Groves is high praise. Personally, I don’t think I’m in his league in terms of historical knowledge. Let’s just say that I consider Lee to be the “lineal champ” historical boxing writers at the present time.

 

FREDDIE’S FINEST

Doug,

How do you think Cotto-Pacquiao would go at 154? – Kevin Key, Duluth, MN

I like Cotto by knockout.

 

MARAVILLA MASHED

What's up Doug-E?

Looking back at Cotto-Martinez I was thinking that even this injury-ridden version of Maravilla would be a little too much for Cotto. Dude, I don't recall a time when I was so happy to be proven wrong. Now I know that Maravilla was no longer Maravilla but some crippled beaten down pug who needed a wheelchair. But in all fairness Cotto himself was far past his prime. Basically he was regarded as a smaller battle-damaged fighter who had all that wear and tear piling up on his tired old chassis due to fighting wars against the best and baddest dudes throughout the 140, 147, and 154 pound divisions. So what he has done since the Pacquiao fight is nothing to sneeze at guys.

Still while part of me enjoyed watching Cotto give Maravilla a busted beak to match his gimpy knees I still had to wonder what really happened to Maravilla anyways. How did he go from the guy who busted up Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams to some crippled pug who would collapse if you merely stared at his chin too long? Can't just be age alone. Guys like Pacquiao and JMM are practically Maravilla's age or pushing there and they both have been through some really brutal fights themselves. More so than Martinez. Look how strongly they're still soldiering forward.

Did Chavez's final round onslaught took that much out of Maravilla? What do you think there, Homie.

And while I'm no Martinez fan I don't want to see the guy go through anymore. He's made his millions. Had a fairly good run as the middleweight champ. Time for the dude to pack it in and enjoy retirement.

And Mr. Cotto? I still think he's overextending himself if he stays at middleweight. I would rather see him fight the Mayweathers and Canelos at 154. Come to think about it Mayweather-Maidana 2 hasn't really been signed has it? If not than give the open slot to Cotto. I think he'll be a tougher opponent for Mr. Money than Chino.

Moving on what do you think of Provodnikov-Algieri? Hmm. Looking at it I notice we have this hard-hitting Russian badass versus some undefeated little known boxer who claims that he's going to give big Russian a boxing lesson. Sounds like Kovalev-Agnew all over again.

And also, what's your thoughts on this upcoming crossroads fight between Jesus Soto Karass and Devon Alexander. One of the most exciting welters versus one of the most boring fighters in that division. Interesting.

Anyhow Homie, holler back. – Captain Ron

I think Alexander is too fast and mobile for Karass, who will likely be frustrated by the St. Louis native’s holding tactics (as Chino Maidana was) whenever they engage in close. In other words, I don’t expect Alexander-Soto Karass to be the fight of the night next Saturday at StubHub Center. Robert Guerrero-Yoshihiro Kamegai will bring the blood and action, while Vasyl Lomachenko-Gary Russell Jr. will provide skill and technique during a closely contested fight.

I agree that Provodnikov-Algieri will probably play out a lot like Kovalev-Agnew.

Mayweather-Cotto 2 makes more sense, money (and history) than Mayweather-Chino 2, but there are too many road blocks/ issues to be dealt with (networks, promoters, date of the PPV, etc.) at the present time for Floyd and Miguel’s teams to work out the details for a rematch to take place this year.

I don’t think Chavez Jr. single handedly broke Martinez’s body. I believe there was a gradual decline in his athletic ability from hard 12-round fights (Williams I and Pavlik) and many tough training camps (for Pavlik, Williams II, Dzinziruk, etc.). I visited Martinez in Oxnard, Calif., during some of these camps and the man worked out and sparred like a machine. But he isn’t a machine. When his parts break down, he can’t order new parts that work just as good or better than the old ones.

Yeah, Pacquiao has more fights than Martinez, and Marquez is a year older than the former middleweight champ, and they are both still kicking ass. That’s life. Some people last longer than others. Pacquiao is more naturally talented than Martinez, while Marquez is technically superior to the Argentine southpaw. Unless they are fighting each other, Manny and Juan Manuel don’t have to work as hard as Martinez (who relied a lot on sheer athleticism) often did to break down or outclass opponents.

 

THE MAGIC IS GONE

Hi Doug,

With all due respect to Paulie Malignaggi, Sergio Martinez was the real Magic Man. His unorthodox style and supreme athleticism, frightening speed and power were breathtaking. He was a pleasure to watch. Your friends were right. What we saw on Saturday was a shot fighter who couldn't plant, couldn't find his range and had nothing on his punches. Cotto was well prepared and fought a sound fight with controlled aggression and a tight D, but he was never tested. I never would have thought his hand speed would be faster than Martinez's. Sergio's performance lent substance to the rumors that he didn't spar during training camp. He came in cold with no timing, and no bounce in those legs. It was hard for me to watch how old Sergio looked. Maybe he should have taken a little more time after the Chavez fight to heal, but that was a big fight with Murray. I can understand why he went for it. I wish Sergio the best and I hope he makes the wise decision and retires. He was always in there against bigger men and never got enough credit for being an undersized middleweight. Thank you, Sergio.

Now onto Cotto. It's hard to gauge how well he did in there because his opponent was so washed up, but I think he'd give a lot of guys a stern test. He looked sharp, fast and strong, especially for his first time at middleweight (although I think he was still under the 160 limit). I'd really like to see him fight GGG next, provided the warrior gets past Geale. Cotto's definitely got the right trainer in his corner.  Arum mentioned Canelo; lots of people are talking about Mayweather. I'd like to see Cotto fight guys who've been in the division, possibly trying to unify the titles.  I realize the business side of things and Cotto's limited window probably means he'll be looking to make the biggest fight possible, but a big part of me feels that the just thing to do is to give guys who've been fighting in the division the first crack at the lineal belt. I really want to see GGG in there because if he wins (and I think he'll destroy Cotto) it'd make it easier for him to get fights. I'm tired of a guy like GGG being avoided. It's his time to shine. Honestly, it should have been GGG in there last night winning that belt, but money talks. 

Anyway, Cheers. – B from Korea

I don’t know if I want to see Cotto vs. Golovkin. I think GGG would just manhandle the natural welterweight in one-sided and embarrassing fashion. He would have literally crippled the version of Martinez that Cotto fought.

Although Cotto is not a natural middleweight I think there are some top 160 pounders I can see him beating, including undefeated WBO titleholder Peter Quillin but the Puerto Rican star has earned the right to cash out against fellow stars at this late stage of his career. Golovkin is the guy who should clean out the 160-pound division. If GGG takes care of biz vs. Geale next month (and I don’t expect that to be an easy night for the WBA beltholder), I’d love to see him take on Kid Chocolate and Sam Soliman before calling out Cotto (or whoever holds THE RING/ WBC titles by then). And if the lineal 160-pound champ is scared to face Golovkin (whose stature in the U.S. will only continue to grow), I think it will be time for GGG to officially invade the super middleweight division where Ward and European badasses, such as Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Geroge Groves and James DeGale reside. I think the elite 168 pounders will be more willing to test themselves against GGG than the top middleweights have been.

Regarding the fall of the “real” Magic Man, my friends were indeed correct. I should have listened to Dave Schwartz and Steve Kim when analyzing the Cotto-Martinez matchup, but I wanted to give the defending champ the benefit of the doubt. Like you, I have been a fan of his style, in-the-ring mettle and out-of-the-ring dignity and charm. I couldn’t get the image of the 2010 and 2011 version of “Maravilla” out of my head.  

That fighter doesn’t exist anymore and he’s not coming back. That’s Ok. He had a hell of a late-career surge, moving to the U.S. and becoming an HBO staple over the last five years, overcoming setbacks (Cintron, Williams I) and delivering some memorable performances (Pavlik, Williams II, Chavez Jr.) during his mid-to-late 30s. Martinez can move on with no regrets.

 

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

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