Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (junior middleweight matchups, dreams for a better sport)

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NEXT FIGHT AT 154; NO LOVE FOR PEDRAZA?

Dougie,

I hope you have recovered from that fantastic weekend of fights. Thank you for keeping it real as boxing comes back.

Which fight do most want to see next at 154? It is such a stacked division with so many likeable fighters. I think Charlo-Hurd is intriguing if Hurd can get his groove back. Alternatively, if Castano takes the strap from Teixeira, Charlo-Castano for all the marbles would easily persuade me to drop $75 on another PPV.

I really enjoy the ratings update from the Ring (incidentally your discussions would make for a great podcast). However, after two fantastic performances in the Top Rank bubble, why has Pedraza not made a splash at 140?

In particular, I think he is a much more complete fighter than Mario Barrios who is currently ranked #7. Barrios received a debatable decision to win his secondary WBA trinket, and while Pedraza lost to a true top 10 contender, his last 2 performances suggest he is growing into the weight and I do think he would be competitive against the top 5 at 140. I think Pedraza could land somewhere between #7-10 right now.

Thanks for all you do. – Phil, DuPont, WA

It’s my pleasure, Phil.

I agree that Pedraza is a genuine player in the 140-pound division. I think he’d trouble even the elite junior welterweights, such as Ring champ Josh Taylor and unified beltholder Jose Ramirez, with his busy unorthodox style, experience and durability.

Mario Barrios Batyr Akhmedov1 Photo by Frank Micelotta Fox SportsPicture 300x215 - Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (junior middleweight matchups, dreams for a better sport)

Mario Barrios vs. Batyr Akhmedov. Photo by Frank Micelotta/Fox Sports/PictureGroup

I also agree that Barrios was lucky to get the decision over Batyr Akhmedov last September. However, there were more than a few ringside observers who gave the young man from San Antonio the edge in a hotly contested fight. Here’s the thing: Akhmedov is an absolute beast, and Barrios not only went 12 rounds with the Uzbek fireplug, he scored two knockdowns. And, like the other young unbeaten up-and-comers rated from No. 7 to No. 10 in Ring’s junior welterweight top 10 (Arnold Barboza, Batyrzhan Jukembayev, Shohjahon Ergashev), Barrios has been in with solid opposition. These guys don’t have built-up records.

You are correct that Pedraza’s last loss was to a legit top-10 contender (Jose Zepeda) and his other two losses were to a pound-for-pound elite boxer (Lomachenko) and an uber-talent (Gervonta Davis), but the decision to Loma was at 135 and the stoppage to Tank was at 130. Ninety percent of Pedraza’s pro career has been at junior lightweight and lightweight. Only his last three bouts were at junior welterweight, and he’s 2-1, so far. However, don’t think that the Ring Ratings Panel has “no love” for the Puerto Rican veteran. They have taken notice of his recent form and career momentum.

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Jose Pedraza handles his biz vs. Javier Molina. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Said panelist Anson Wainwright during our September 19-20 email chain ratings discussion: “(Pedraza is) possibly our next guy to come in to what is a very deep division.”

Added panelist Martin Mulcahey: “Jose Pedraza really keeps bouncing back from setbacks, (he’s) tough of mind and hard to beat, so I agree (he’s) next in despite not being an up-and-coming prospect.”

Basically, they’re saying he needs one more impressive performance at 140 pounds to crack The Ring rankings. And I’m sure his next bout will be a significant one. I wouldn’t be shocked if he took on the winner of tomorrow’s ESPN-televised main event between former titleholder Ivan Baranchyk (Ring’s No. 3 contender) and familiar foe Zepeda (No. 6).

I hope you have recovered from that fantastic weekend of fights. I’m 100% recovered and ready for more boxing-heavy Saturdays. October 31 is looking pretty crowded with the Davis-Santa Cruz PPV moving from the 24th to Halloween night, joining the Inoue-Moloney and Usyk-Chisora cards. It won’t be easy watching all that boxing while handing out candy, but I’m up for the challenge. Bring it on!

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The newly crowned Ring/unified 154-pound champ has many options for significant fights.

Which fight do most want to see next at 154? It is such a stacked division with so many likeable fighters. Agreed. I’d like to see Jermell Charlo vs. Erislandy Lara and Julian Williams vs. Tony Harrison (and then I want the winners to square off – if Charlo can deal with the Cuban veteran, I think a family grudge match vs. J-Rock or the rubbermatch would make for fun promotional buildups to entertaining championship fights). I’d also like to see Michel Soro (Ring’s No. 8-rated junior middleweight) get a shot against one of the better-known contenders.

I think Charlo-Hurd is intriguing if Hurd can get his groove back. I agree 100%, and this matchup is potentially the most action packed. However, judging by the training footage of Hurd that has recently surfaced on social media, the former two-belt titleholder looks like he’s barely under the cruiserweight limit.

Alternatively, if Castano takes the strap from Teixeira, Charlo-Castano for all the marbles would easily persuade me to drop $75 on another PPV. That’s another matchup that would promise fireworks. But as tough, talented and experienced (given his amateur background) as Castano is, don’t count out Patrick Teixeira. The gangly and tenacious Brazilian volume puncher has improved with each outing since being blown out by Curtis Stevens in 2016.

I really enjoy the ratings update from the Ring (incidentally your discussions would make for a great podcast). Thank you. I try to be as transparent and detailed as possible with each update. And that’s not a bad idea for a podcast. Time zones would be a problem, and if we somehow all joined a Zoom meeting at the same time it would look like the beginning of the Brady Bunch and would likely be a massive clusterf__k, but I think it’s worth looking into doing some kind of podcast/YouTube version of the Ring Ratings Update once or twice a month with various Panel members.

 

TWINS

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Photo by Amanda Wescott / SHOWTIME

Doug Fischer and The Charlo Bros: The present and future of boxing, fashion, and entertainment!! – Gregory

Thanks for including me, Greg, but I don’t see where I fit in any of those categories (especially fashion!). Jermell and Jermall, on the other hand, definitely have the look of not-too-distant future stars.

Look for them to grace the cover of your favorite boxing magazine soon.

 

MY CRAZY IDEA TO FIX BOXING

Hey Dougie,

Hope you and the fam are holding up well under the crazy circumstances. Wanted to start things off by thanking you and the rest of The Ring for pumping out amazing issues of the magazine and great articles on the website during Covid, has really kept me sane. Loving the Pacman issue, especially the informal piece by Larry Merchant, was great to see him back in some capacity in our great sport.

Now into the main reason I wanted to write to you. As boxing fans, we all know what is wrong with boxing, the alphabet bodies flooded the market with knock off belts, the biggest names don’t fight nearly often enough, most fighters are overpaid and it makes it harder to put on shows, and promoters refuse to work together and make the biggest fights. As a boxing fan who doesn’t live in the US of A, I also don’t have access to the platforms the fights are on, DAZN was meant to go global in May but with this Canelo lawsuit they are more likely to go broke. Finally, boxing is continuously counterprogrammed by the UFC, which in most cases offers a better product (especially during covid because their fighters receive only 20% of the total revenue so it is easier to get bigger names) AND makes its product readily available (I pay less than 100USD a year for access to all cards in the Middle East).

Now imagine Dougie, that you have a distant uncle who passes away and leaves you a war chest on par with the PBC, my suggestion would be this: buy the WBA and the WBC. As much as boxing fans hate to admit it, belts f__king matter, and part of why the UFC is seen as superior by some, is because there is no confusion as to who is the best in the division, yes they also have s__t rankings and yes they have learned about the interim champ loophole from boxing, but the champ is the champ. I chose the WBA and the WBC because as much as they play around they are the oldest and most prestigious belts, so consolidating them makes sense.

Once you have purchased these two bodies, you mandate that all champs (including interim, gold, silver, aztec, gabbagool etc.) enter a knockout tournament to determine one champ in each weight class or be stripped. Promoters usually only cross the line when the payday is too much to leave on the table or their man needs to keep his belt for bigger paydays down the line. If fighters are stripped, they lose out on the new Hybrid, RING, WBA and WBC belt, if they opt to try their luck, we get the WBSS across all the weight classes. The Ring magazine rankings, already the most respected in the community, will become the official rankings of the sports, and we can consolidate the belts once and for all.

Second, as a world championship, you should mandate that RINGBC belts must be broadcast globally, so televisions rights holders must have a platform to broadcast the sport outside their respective domains. Taking the Middle East as an example, there is no “boxing rights holder” so if Sky, Showtime or DAZN want to, they can make a global platform available for purchase.

Now I realize this is a pipe dream, and I am sure it will be infinitely more complicated than I am making out here, but cant a poor boxing fan dream? Would love to get your thoughts on fixing boxing Dougie, please feel free to go as crazy with it as I did.

Some quick MMs after such a long email:

Usyk vs Bowe

Mairis Breidis vs Holyfield

Cheers. – Abed

I’ll go with The Big Daddy by close unanimous decision in a competitive fight, and The Real Deal by clear unanimous decision in an entertaining scrap (and I’m assuming Holyfield-Briedis is at cruiserweight).

Your pipe dream is a good one, Abed. I wish I had a billion dollars to straighten out this sport we love. I think I would have to purchase the IBF and the WBO, too. If those two sanctioning bodies are left out of your grand plan, promoters, managers and fighters that aren’t interested in the best vs. the best will flock there rather than take part in the WBSS style tournaments. The first thing I’d do is combine all of the good regulations and practices of the sanction bodies (such as community outreach, the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program – and I’d further fund VADA enough to empower them to test EVERYBODY – and the IBF’s second-day weigh-in rule that limits how much weight boxers can put on prior to fighting, etc.), and make them uniform among all four. I’d also enact strict policies barring rule-breakers (from chronic PED users to those who repeatedly miss weight to dirty fighters, etc.) from the rankings and title bouts. My ultimate goal would be to crown undisputed champions in all 17 divisions, men and women (Ring champs would be the top seeds of each tournament, naturally); once there’s a universally recognized champ in every weight class, I’d dissolve the sanctioning bodies (but keep the best elements of the organizations’ rules and practices). The sport would have one championship belt to showcase to the world. Can you guess which one it would be? (And, no, it’s not the NABO.)

I like your idea of always having an “international” option beyond the domestic TV deals, some kind of stream that fans in other countries and territories could purchase. (I’d try to have as many free streams as possible, of course.)

It’s a good dream.

Wanted to start things off by thanking you and the rest of The Ring for pumping out amazing issues of the magazine and great articles on the website during Covid, has really kept me sane. It’s been our pleasure and honor. We’ll try to keep the ball rolling and even step up our coverage as live world-class boxing gradually returns to the schedule.

Loving the Pacman issue, especially the informal piece by Larry Merchant, was great to see him back in some capacity in our great sport. Thank you, Abed. There are more special issues to come, and hopefully, Merchant will return pen a few articles that appear in them.

 

BOXING IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

Hello Mr. Fischer,

I see two issues in boxing related to boxing being mostly a niche sport.

  1. I’ve heard that youths today are a lot less likely to go into boxing vs going into sports like football and basketball where it could be a bigger chance of success, fame, and in the case of basketball, they get to keep their health.  Also, those sports are funded by the school systems, which also could lead to scholarships, college, etc. which sets them up just in case their careers doesn’t work out.  Boxing doesn’t have that at all and this falls primarily on the boxer and his team if he has one.
  2. Because most boxers aren’t likely to make big profits (and many that do end up broke anyway), many of them eventually struggle in some form and don’t have anything else to fall back on if they haven’t wisely invested their money. I assume that many may not have other skills in the professional world outside of boxing. Many never held a consistent job.

In my opinion, some of these issues could be solved with interjecting boxing into youth and school programs just like other sports that are more easily accessible. Kids, especially in the inner cities need an outlet and most likely have to be sponsored in amateur boxing as opposed to only football or basketball, which is saturated now anyway. I’m sure parents are worried about safety but let’s be honest, most kids fight all the time as much as they play any other sports and learning how to correctly do it in a safe and supervised manner would especially be beneficial to the average kid.  Also, let’s say the upper echelon of amateur boxing is similar to college level NCAA sports.  Promising boxers would also have access to an education which opens plenty of doors if their careers don’t work out.  They wouldn’t have to start getting an education at 38 or keep fighting after their prime because by bad luck, they never got the paydays that would’ve helped them. Do you think this could work? Pros and Cons? If so, why hasn’t it been done?

Let me know what you think. – Deon Jackson, MI

I don’t think institutionalized boxing programs (like team sports) in middle/high schools would work, Deon. I agree that better education among boxers, amateur and pro, lead to better lives during and after their boxing careers. But I can’t envision school and collegiate boxing programs receiving government funding or general public support. Like or not, boxing is viewed as a corrupt sport (a reputation I’m sure a lot of hardcore fans would say is “well earned”) as well as a dangerous, potentially lethal, pursuit. Once upon a time, it was an intercollegiate sport (1930s-60s) in the U.S., and many universities included it as NCAA competition. However, ring fatalities in NCAA tournaments made it controversial and it was eventually phased out.

I can’t imagine the uproar if a middle school or high school student were seriously injured or killed as the result of a school-sanctioned boxing match (or even during training for a school boxing event). And what you have to keep in mind is that the American education system has bigger problems to deal with. I agree that “kids in the inner cities need an outlet,” as you put it, but the schools that serve those children and teens are woefully underfunded. They’ve got underpaid teachers, overcrowded classrooms with limited desks and supplies, outdated textbooks and a total lack of arts and music programs. Those problems take priority over sports, never mind boxing.

Boxing ain’t for everybody, but the young people who have already found the sport could use a hand in getting a better education if they have that desire and aptitude. So, what I’d like to see is the boxing industry (networks, promoters, managers, sanctioning bodies, media, fans, etc.) pool its resources and sponsor boxing gyms and amateur teams, including the development of community centers/tutoring programs in connection with the boxing clubs. I’d also like to see the industry help fund independent study programs for the elite amateurs that frequently travel the country and world participating in tournaments.

Lastly, I’d like to see college scholarships created for standout amateur boxers and young pros. And I’m not talking about scholarships to participate on college boxing teams (for the very few colleges that have them), I’m talking about incentives to continue and complete higher learning and get at least a bachelor’s degree before or during ones pro career.

 

 

Email Fischer at dougie@boxingmailbag.com. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Tom’s Periscope every Sunday.

The post Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (junior middleweight matchups, dreams for a better sport) appeared first on The Ring.

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