Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Monday mailbag

DANGEROUS MATCHMAKING

Hey Dougie!

Hope you’re well.

This is my first time writing in to the Mailbag, and even if it doesn’t make the cut I’d massively appreciate a reply.

So this past weekend’s fights went entirely as expected. Like most, I was pretty peeved as a fight fan that these matchups were made, especially the Danny Garcia-Rod Salka fight, which I see as an absolute farce (who doesn’t). But one point no one has made is the potential for added danger when someone like Salka steps into the ring with someone like Garcia. Of course, the element of danger is always there, but it increases hugely in a situation like this. I mean, he was unranked at 135, fighting at 142, which gives Garcia another benefit, and he had no power to speak of. How was this fight even allowed to get made!? This wasn’t even a glorified sparring session; it really was a lamb to the slaughter. Let’s say that KO had done some serious damage, then everyone would be criticising the people in power for letting it go ahead, and boxing would be getting more negative press which it doesn’t need. Not to mention the damage to the fighter. I completely understand tune up fights but there should be a limit. Perhaps, yet another reason why boxing needs a proper regulator.

At least we have a proper card this Saturday!

Couple of quick Mythical Matchups before I go, apologies if you’ve answered before:

Julio Cesar Chavez Sr VS Mayweather Jr @ 140

Julio Cesar Chavez Sr VS Juan Manuel Marquez @ 140

Carl Froch VS James Toney @ 168

Lennox Lewis VS Wladimir Klitschko

Thanks for the Mailbags, too. I value your opinion higher than that of the other boxing press, and that not just me trying to worm my way into the Mailbag!

Cheers. – Alex, London

Thank you for your kind words, Alex. I know you’re not just trying to butter me up to make the mailbag, but I had to put your email up top because you brought up the most important criticism of the main event (and to a lesser extent, the Lamont Peterson-Edgar Santana co-feature) to Saturday’s Showtime tripleheader – the risk of serious injury to the underdogs.

Santana took a sustained beating for 10 rounds, while Salka’s second-round knockout was reminiscent of poor Joey Gamache’s near decapitation at the heavy hands of the late Arturo Gatti.

The similarities between the two mismatches are eerie. The contracted weight limit for Garcia-Salka was 142 pounds. The contracted weight limit for Gatti-Gamache was 141 pounds.

Both Gamache and Salka were undersized, natural lightweights in against big junior welterweights who rehydrated to the middleweight range by fight night. Gatti ballooned to 160 pounds. Garcia’s father Angle Garcia admits that his son weighed as much as 155 pounds by fight night against Salka.

And, of course, both Gamache and Salka were knocked out in brutal and frightening fashion. The Gamache KO was much worse, as the former two-division beltholder was semi-conscious and unable to get up for several disturbing minutes after being blasted in Round 2.

(Gamache sued the New York State Athletic Commission – the fight took place at Madison Square Garden in February 2000 – for negligence in conducting the weigh-in and Team Gatti for lingering physical damage he suffered from the beating. Gamache and his representation, which included the late Johnny Bos, claimed Gatti didn’t really make 141. I could be wrong, but I think the video that was used as evidence of NYSAC’s mis-handling of the weigh-in belonged to my first boxing website, HouseofBoxing.com.)

Thankfully, Salka seemed to be alright immediately following the knockout. Check out this locker-room interview he did with Bill Emes after the fight.

Hopefully he doesn’t suffer any linger effects from the KO, as Gamache did.

Anyway, you asked a very good question: “How was this fight even allowed to get made?”

There are two answers. The first and primary answer was uttered by all of the Al Haymon-managed fighters that were on the Showtime broadcast (Garcia, Peterson, Daniel Jacobs and Adrien Broner) when they were asked about future significant fights: “Boxing is a business.”

The second answer is that most fighters that are on their way up or on their way down are desperate enough to fight anyone under any circumstance, while fighters who are on top tend to be a little more cautious (some more than others, of course).

Garcia is on top. He’s the recognized junior welterweight champ, who has begun to make seven-figure paydays for his title bouts and even high six-figure purses for non-title fights (he made $700,000 for the Salka bout), and he knows that he’s on the short list of “approved” pay-per-view B-sides for Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Salka was on his way up (and now may be on his way down). He had a nice showing against Canelo’s older brother (which he should have won) and he upset a former Cuban amateur standout in a ShoBox main event prior to getting the offer to face Garcia. He wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity. All fighters believe they can pull off the most massive upsets. The people around them may or may not believe they can do it, but most of them will go for a decent pay day that could lead to bigger paydays.

Showtime wants to put on big, significant fights, not mismatches. Same with Golden Boy Promotions. However, the marquee fighters, their teams and their management have a say so in how their careers go.

I’m sure Showtime and GBP would have preferred to skip this past Saturday’s card and go straight to the Garcia-Peterson showdown, a significant and competitive matchup that will sell tickets and produce hot ratings. However, I’m sure the Garcia side was like “Whoa, hold up! I just fought a hardass spoiler (Mauricio Herrera). Before that I fought the number-one contender and the biggest puncher in the division (Lucas Matthysse). Before that I fought Zab Judah and it was a tough fight. Before that I fought Erik Morales and Amir Khan. When do I get a break?”

I’m sure Angel Garcia was like “What are you trying to do, burn out my son!? I’m not gonna let you do that!”

And I’m sure the Peterson side was OK with facing a non-threat before taking on a big, strong, tough, boxer-puncher like Garcia. “Hey, I just fought my mandatory challenger (Dierry Jean). That dude was 25-0, and dangerous! Before that I got my head chopped off by that Matthysse S.O.B. Can a brother get a breather? Damn!”

This is the reality the networks and promoters have to deal with, and they occasionally have to compromise.

In this case, they compromised too much. Salka simply didn’t have the durability, physical strength, experience or slickness to even give Garcia a few quality rounds. And Santana was too one-dimensional to compete with Peterson.

Hopefully, going forward this show serves as a lesson and networks and promoters don’t compromise too much when trying to set up big fights.

On a positive note, you’re absolutely right that this Saturday’s Showtime tripleheader is a “proper card.” Shawn Porter vs Kell Brook is an even-money matchup between to two top welterweights, and the Bika-Dirrel and Figueroa-Estrada bouts should deliver some excitement.

Your mythical matchups:

Julio Cesar Chavez Sr VS Mayweather Jr @ 140 – Chavez by close decision (in a fight that goes much like Mayweather’s first bout with Jose Luis Castillo, only JC Superstar cuts the ring off quicker and gets the benefit of doubt from the judges)

Julio Cesar Chavez Sr VS Juan Manuel Marquez @ 140 – Chavez by close decision (in a fight that would be much more entertaining than the Mayweather matchup)

Carl Froch VS James Toney @ 168 – Toney by close decision

Lennox Lewis VS Wladimir Klitschko – Whoever is first to land a flush right hand probably wins this one by one-punch KO, but I think Lewis a little bit stronger and more complete than Wladdy, so I’m gonna go with Big L by mid-rounds stoppage.

 

SUCKTIME

Dougie,

So rumor has it arrest warrants have been issued for Danny Garcia, Al Haymon, Showtime executives and the entire NY State Athletic commission in response to the assault and battery of Rod Salka.

Funny haha, right? Only not so much as this kind of blatant mismatch is how you get fighters badly damaged or even killed. We all knew it was a joke. Numerous sports news outlets wouldn’t even make picks for Saturday’s fights, knowing how laughably one sided these so called contests were. Teddy Atlas nearly had stroke screaming about it.

In the end, it was worse than imagined with a clearly overmatched and undersized man nearly having his head removed in barbaric fashion. No one with a clear mind wants to see such brutality. We all cheer knockouts between evenly matched opponents. Men who can defend themselves!! (Sorry, channeling Teddy Atlas there) We all loved GGG slugging it out with Curtis Stevens, but Curtis could punch! Salka makes Paulie Malinaggi look like a wrecking ball.

Who suffers the most, outside of Salka and his family? Paper chumpion Danny Garcia, who is deservedly being shredded across social media for fighting a “Cherry picked Tomato Can” after being gifted a decision against Herrera (the real champ) earlier this year. I have been a HUGE fan of Danny Garcia, but I now find it impossible to root for the man who faced down the thunder in Lucas Matthysse when no one else dared. He does not need protecting. He is entering his prime, damnit. Shame on him for accepting this fight. And screw his loud mouthed father too.

Adding insult to injury there is likely no chance we see Garcia in against Peterson later this year or even in 2015. Peterson is a good fighter, but is not elite material and never will be. Garcia would knock him out and yes, Al Haymon knows that. He won’t water down his gravy train so we will soon see both men in against soft touches long before they fight each other. Haymon has seen the truth with these guys (like he has with Peter Quillin).

How many Showtime executive sex tapes does Haymon have in his possession? Nothing else explains their willingness to put this s__t on the air.

And on last thing… Shame on Jim Gray, who has gone soft in recent years. He should have gone right after Garcia about this sham of a fight and put him on the spot. Especially when he deferred to THE KING, Al Haymon, yet again, as the man who picks his fights. God forbid these punks think for themselves. Champs like GGG and Kovalov are not with Haymon and OH LOOK! They call out the best fighters! They think for themselves! What a concept!

Showtime is kissing so much ass right now it should be renamed Sucktime.

Thanks for your time, Dougie. – Matt Stevens

Your feelings on the Garcia-Salka fight, Haymon’s influence on his fighters and the sport, and Showtime are shared by many hardcore fans, Matt.

I don’t blame you for channeling Teddy Atlas. But I won’t do that because, A) I’m not insane and B) I thought Salka had a chance to trouble Garcia (if he were allowed to warm up and get into his rhythm, which the 26-year-old champ smartly did not allow).

The sad thing is that all of the respect among hardcore heads that Garcia had earned by upsetting Khan, battling it out with Judah, and by taking on and defeating “The Machine” is now gone thanks to the controversy of the Herrera fight and the choice of Salka as an opponent.

I would be surprised if Garcia-Peterson wasn’t made. Unless Garcia gets the call to challenge Mayweather after the Maidana rematch, what else is out there for him? He and his father are clearly not interested in giving Herrera a rematch, Broner is still being re-built as 140 pounds (and probably has first dibs on Maidana after Mayweather), Khan is holding out for Floyd just like he is, and “in-house” welterweight standouts like Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman are too dangerous. 

I agree that Peterson isn’t an “elite” fighter, but neither is Garcia, in my opinion. I think Garcia is the top junior welterweight in the game right now (yes, even after Herrera caught him napping), and I think Peterson is a legit top-five 140 pounder. If Peterson can take Garcia’s power, I think he can outwork the Philly native in an entertaining scrap.

Regarding “Sucktime” (good one!), yeah, they delivered some awful s__t this past Saturday. But HBO has been guilty of doing the same thing. Kovalev nearly killed poor Ismayl Sillakh in the set-up show to their hoped-for showdown between “the Krusher” and Adonis Stevenson.

And if I recall correctly, Miguel Cotto – undefeated in 31 fights and at his absolute peak – toyed with woefully outclassed Alfonso Gomez, dropping “The Contender” alum three times before their mismatch was stopped in five rounds in early 2008 set up to Cotto’s showdown with Antonio Margarito later that year. (At least Margz was in a solid matchup with his rematch against Kermit Cintron, then the IBF welterweight beltholder.)

Showtime Sports, while under the lead of Ken Hershman (now the boss over at HBO Sports), did the same thing in the build-up to matching Chad Dawson with Antonio Tarver, feeding Tarver club fighter Elvir Muriqi and undeserving Danny Santiago, while allowing Dawson to beat up on hapless Jesus Ruiz, before the two light heavyweight standouts finally met up. (By the way, Dan Rafael used that “sex tape” joke, or something close to it, to rip Hershman for the Tarver mismatches on Showtime.)

There are plenty of other examples, none of which excuses the ugliness we witnessed in Brooklyn on Saturday. My point is that the “set-up” card is part of boxing (at least in the premium cable age). Network executives and promoters just have be more careful of who they clear to face the co-featured favorites they are hoping to match at a later date.

Also, as much as I love Golovkin and Kovalev, please keep in mind that Makoto Fuchigami, Gabe Rosado and Nobuhiro Ishida had no business being in the ring with GGG; and Cedric Agnew and Blake Caparello – despite their unbeaten records – had not legitimately earned shots at Krusher’s WBO light heavyweight title.

 

LITTLE GIANTS

What’s good Mr Fischer!

I hope you had a chance to watch the strawweight unification match between Francisco “Chihuas” Rodriguez and Katsunari Takayama. I know I did here in my home country of Mexico! It was fireworks from the beginning. I gotta tell you though, Takayama had some balls coming to Mexico and truly fought his heart out. To me the fight’s difference was the knocked down. The scorecards were way off it should have been 115-113 all around in favor of my countryman.

Does Rodriguez’s accomplishments now make Chocolatito even better than he truly is? Same thing happened to Juan Estrada. Now both men who were defeated by Roman are unified world champions, even though they both fought Roman at his best weight class.

I think that if Estrada can handle his biz Sep 6 vs Segura and Roman vs Yaegashi we can have a fight for the ages no doubt. What do you think?

Ohhhh and about Garcia vs Salka at least we know that getting decapitated got Salka $120,000… If Garcia and Peterson don’t fight each other I would love to see either one vs The Ghost at 147.

Keep up the good work and I hope that I make this bag. I’m 2 out of 5 haha. – Agustin from Mexico City

Now you’re 3 out of 6, Agustin. This email was definitely gonna make the bag because you’re the only fan who wrote to me about not only the best fight of the weekend, but a front-runner for Fight of the Year for 2014.

OF COURSE, I watched Rodriguez-Takayama, dude. The flyweights and strawweights NEVER disappoint when the best face the best (which happens all the time in the weight classes below 118 pounds).

Those who haven’t seen the 12-round barnburner should take the time to do so now. (DO IT NOW!)

I agree with you, I think the knockdown was the difference in the fight. The Japanese veteran was in control of the fight with his jab, lateral movement, in-and-out tactics, and body attack through six rounds (despite being floored). I thought the younger, bigger, stronger man gradually began to impose himself on the older fighter in the middle rounds and landed the harder shots in the late rounds.

However, Takayama never conceded and never stopped trying to win. I loved his commitment to the body and the way he answered back EVERY time Rodriguez put it on him.

The championship rounds of that 105-pound unification bout is the way all world title fights that go the distance should end – with both men giving everything they’ve got.

The 116-111 scorecard was awful. The 119-108 tally was disgraceful. Those dirt bag judges disrespected a true champion, one of the few world-class Road Warriors in the sport. Boxing needs more titleholders like Takayama.

Anyway, of course, Rodriguez becoming the IBF/WBO strawweight boss and Estrada earning the WBA/WBO flyweight titles after getting beat by Roman Gonzalez makes Chocolatito’s already elite resume look even more awesome.

He and Estrada aren’t facing the Rod Salkas of the flyweight division – both standouts are in very tough on Sept. 5 (when “Chocolatito” faces RING/WBC champ Akira Yaegashi) and on Sept. 6 (when Estrada defends against relentless former 108-pound champ Giovani Segura) – but if both win next month their rematch will be an epic confrontation.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Garcia or Peterson vs. Robert Guerrero, either, but I’d never describe those fights as “epic.”

 

“BOXING IS A BUSINESS”

Hello Douglass, 

Sunday morning, I was watching a replay of this last SHO boxing triple header, coffee and vape-pen in hand, I seen three of boxing’s elite fight fellow boxers who were 3-4 tiers below (correct me if I’m wrong); I saw Peterson, Broner & Garcia talking about “Boxing is a Business” rather than “aw-shucks”, “I want to be great” & “I want to fight the best”…

WTF?! You kinda get the impression that these guys are coached by none other than the Leprechaun-in-the-Hood himself… 

I used to be a fan of Broner, but the last time that Broner made me smile was when Broner was getting ripped apart by Maidana. I’m smiling right now just thinking about it! Holy Sh!t, maybe I’m the ghoulish leprechaun?! HAHAHAHA

I can’t wait to see GGG again! GGG inspires me to make the time on Saturday nights, call over some friends, pound premium beer as if they were Aquafina bottles and fire up the BBQ to watch live boxing. 

Thank you for constantly keeping us posted, keep up the great work, you are on your way to greatness (but you knew this already). – Alex, San Jose, California

LOL. The word “greatness” is overused and tossed around way too much in boxing but I appreciate your kind words and your point of view on “boxing businessmen.”

We all know that professional boxing is a business. Fans don’t need to be reminded of the business every time a fighter is interviewed. Al Haymon-managed fighters are the worst when it comes to the “boxing is a business” quote. (Haymon is probably the Leprechaun in the Hood. What am I saying? LITH probably works for Haymon.)

The thing is, once the business is put before the sport by everyone involved – promoters, networks, managers, media, fighters, and finally the fans – the sport ceases to exist. Cynics (and there’s no shortage of them in boxing) would say that’s already happened.

I prefer to be optimistic thanks to fighters like Golovkin, Kovalev, and The Immortal B-Hop who want to clean out their divisions; the “Little Giants” (Gonzalez, Yaegashi, Estrada, Segura, “Chihuas” Rodriguez, Brian Viloria, Tyson Marquez, and too many others to mention) who have no fear of facing each other and always give 100%; the name fighters who aren’t afraid to take risky fights (Canelo), the crazy mother f__kers who just love to scrap (James Kirkland), and even some Haymon-managed fighters who don’t always say “boxing is a business” and have no problem calling out their peers (Porter, Keith Thurman and Deontay Wilder).

 

FOUR QUESTIONS

Hi Dougie,

I’m currently 1-5 for getting in the mailbag! I see those odds as a challenge. I’m also determined to do it without praising either your writing, prophetic heads up on GGG or important role in bridging the fans with the higher levels of the fight game (see what I did there!)

Just a few questions for you:

1. I recently competed in a white collar bout – Lots of guys, theoretically none of whom have ever boxed before, train for 12 weeks, get matched up, and have a 3×2 boxing match with big gloves and headguards. I in no way consider what I just did the same as even an amateur fighter, but as a lifelong fan just having a tiny taste of what my ring heroes go through gives you an even bigger appreciation of the sport and its participants. However giving up three stone isn’t much fun – or especially safe – however hard you train. White Collar is growing hugely in the UK so I wondered if you had the same thing in the US and what your thoughts were on it? A bunch of idiots who shouldn’t be in a ring swinging away, or a great advert for the sport?

2. Watching the Barclays Center card in the early hours today, I’ve got to ask how exactly is Lamont Peterson still holding a major belt? First he’s pretty much gifted the win when Khan loses two points for pushing him, a foul I have never seen penalised both before and after the fight. Secondly he tests positive for doping –  the ratio of Peterson’s testosterone to epitestosterone was 3.77:1, when the norm is 1:1. Maybe like the IBF you believe that his team hadn’t intended for this to raise his performance, but it was a fairly convenient fact then that it probably did! Thirdly the guy gets absolutely splattered by Lucas Mathysse. Throughout all of this he keeps the belt, and is given a defence against Edgar Santana! Come on! Has this guy been anointed by the IBF or something?

3. Froch has made a few noises in the press that if he doesn’t get a Chavez fight in January he might retire, as Vegas is his last frontier to conquer. Do you give this any credence? I would absolutely hate it if my current favourite fighter left the game now when he still has so much to offer. Could you see Andre Ward flying over to Wembley stadium for a superfight and given his inactivity plus the momentum behind the Cobra how would this one turn out? I’m going for a hotly disputed SD to Froch.

4. It’s emerged today that Lennox Lewis’ old manager and famous face of British boxing Frank Maloney is now called Kellie and undergoing gender reassignment. Hopefully this brings her the happiness she wants. Outside of actual fight results, what is the most shocking story or incident that you’ve ever heard about whilst covering this crazy sport? I think the only time my jaw dropped further than the article this morning would be the Fan Man crashing into the ring during the Bowe vs Holyfield re-match.

Finally a couple of mythical match-ups involving some of my all time favourites:

Nigel Benn vs GGG (168)

Froch vs Gerald Mclellan (168)

Naseem Hamed vs Nonito Donaire (130)

David Haye vs Holyfield (200) 

Thanks. – Jason, Nottingham

Second time making the bag, Jason. Way to go. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ll reply to them in order:

1) We have White Collar boxing here in the States and it’s quite popular in urban areas, particularly in New York City. I was told during my most recent trip to the Big Apple that Gleason’s Gym, one of the oldest and at one time one of the most respected boxing clubs in the NYC area, is now almost exclusively a “White Collar” establishment. I think White Collar boxing is both a good advertisement for the sport, as well as a bunch of idiots who shouldn’t be in the ring. I mean, come on, it’s not very smart for middle-aged men who aren’t able to commit to daily training and a healthy lifestyle to be punching each other in the head. However, it creates more fans (ones with disposable income), and as you noted, it fosters a sincere appreciation for both the craft and sacrifice of the sport.

2) Peterson is indeed lucky to have that IBF belt and he knows it. Watch the last part of this post-fight interview and listen to what he says when RingTV’s Bill Emes asks him if it upsets him when Angel Garcia says he should have the belt. He’s very diplomatic to say the least. LOL. But he knows he’s a “champion” right now because the IBF refused to strip him after the Khan fight/controversy (as the WBA did) and because he didn’t put it on the line when he fought Matthysse.

3) When Froch speaks, I listen and I take him seriously. Contemplating retirement might be his way of hard negotiating with Chavez’s team but I don’ t think Froch is one to B.S. So I think it is possible (at least a 50% chance) that he hangs up his gloves if the Chavez fight can’t be made. I don’t think Ward will ever leave the U.S. to fight a guy that he’s already defeated. He’s too proud to play second banana to Froch (which is what he would be at this stage of their careers) and he’s too paranoid to give up home country advantage (he wouldn’t travel during the Super Six tournament, why would start now?).

4) I wish Kellie well and nothing but peace. I remember conducting a long telephone interview with Maloney for the official fight program for Lewis-Holyfield I. He was a colorful character with quite a chip on his shoulder. Perhaps this inner conflict has something to do with his combative side (as well as the intolerance he had toward gays during his London mayoral campaign 10 years ago).

Your mythical matchups:

Nigel Benn vs GGG (168) – if this was at 160 pounds, I’d pick Golvokin by mid-rounds stoppage, but Benn seemed to have a better chin as well as much-improved stamina at super middleweight. He also evolved beyond the “Dark Destroyer” and became a more versatile boxer. I think this mythical matchup is a toss-up but I’ll go with Benn, who had the power to hurt GGG but also had the tenacity, ring generalship and savvy to survive his own rough spots (which he would definitely have to deal with) en route to a close decision. Golovkin is unproven at 168 pounds, while Benn was at his best at super middleweight (see his rematch with Chris Eubank and epic-but-tragic stoppage of Gerald McClellan).

Froch vs Gerald Mclellan (168) – I like Froch, who would provide the right mix of boxing and brawling, to post a close, up-for-the-canvas decision.

Naseem Hamed vs Nonito Donaire (130) – The Prince by decision.

David Haye vs Holyfield (200) – Real Deal by mid-to-late rounds KO.

 

 Videos by Bill Emes

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

Around the web