Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Ring City, the heavyweight division, and ‘what-ifs?’)

FOF fury joshua contents - Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Ring City, the heavyweight division, and ‘what-ifs?’)

RING CITY

Dear Dougie –

Best wishes to you and yours and all the mailbag readers.

Do you have any initial thoughts, concerns, hopes or questions yourself about the newly announced “Ring City” broadcast series on NBC networks?

I’d be glad to get back to seeing some club/prospect-level action and some competitive match-ups (perhaps even cross-promotional in nature) from outside the four big PBC/Main Events/Matchroom/Golden Boy silos.

Would be great to see DiBella, Duva, Loeffler, RocNation, whomever… have a national TV outlet with some vague mandate from the broadcaster to do a bit more than just showcase their stars.

Any particular chance the promoter-agnostic nature of the TV series results in better action, if at lower-ish talent levels?

Thanks, as always! – Brock, San Diego 

My hope is that the reported “one-off” contracts for this new boxing series results in competitive matchups, but the fighters/managers/promoters still have to be willing to take risky fights. Mike Coppinger reports that the budget for Ring City shows exceeds those of ShoBox, which is promising, but let’s see if the matchups exceed Showtime’s respected 20-year-old developmental series.

Do you have any initial thoughts, concerns, hopes or questions yourself about the newly announced “Ring City” broadcast series on NBC networks? Not really. I’m going to take a wait-and-see approach (as I usually do). I’ll just say that the key to this series will be promoters working together and sharing dates. I don’t think it will work, or last long, if NBC Sports only deals with two or three promotional companies. Having said that, I’m looking forward to what Ring City (and the promoters involved) delivers on the three dates that Coppinger announced (Nov. 17, Dec. 3 and Dec. 17).

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Bohachuck finished the show against Cesar Soriano Berumen with a second-round knockout in 2018. Photo by Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos / 360 Promotions

I’d be glad to get back to seeing some club/prospect-level action and some competitive match-ups (perhaps even cross-promotional in nature) from outside the four big PBC/Main Events/Matchroom/Golden Boy silos. Those promoters all have solid 10-round-level pros and promising up-and-comers who need and deserve the exposure. I’ve seen the development of Southern California-based prospects like junior middleweight Serhii Bohachuk (17-0, 17 KOs) and lightweight Ruben Torres (13-0, 11 KOs) on Tom Loeffler’s 360 Promotions and Thompson Boxing cards over the past 18 months, and I think they would make for terrific fights against the standouts promoted by DiBella Entertainment, Main Events, Banner Promotions, Star Boxing, Salita Promotions, etc.

Would be great to see DiBella, Duva, Loeffler, RocNation, whomever… have a national TV outlet with some vague mandate from the broadcaster to do a bit more than just showcase their stars. Indeed. Give us Bohachuck (Tom Loeffler) vs. Charles Conwell (12-0, 9 KOs, promoted by Lou DiBella) or LeShawn Rodriquez (12-0, 9 KOs, promoted by Kathy Duva). Give us Torres (Thompson Boxing) vs. Zhora Hamazaryan (9-1-2, 6 KOs, promoted by Artie Pelullo). Or Brian Ceballo (11-0, 6 KOs, a welterweight promoted by Loeffler) vs. Jamshidbek Najmitdinov (16-1, 13 KOs, a former 140 pounder from Uzbekistan whose only loss is to Viktor Postol, promoted by Pelullo). Give us whatever you can, whatever makes sense, just work together to create competitive matchups!

 

THE PROBLEMS BOXING FACES

Hi Dougie,

I hope you are well you and are enjoying the boxing schedule returning to some level or normalcy.

Yesterday I saw a tweet from Dan Rafael highlighting the WBA’s farcical decision to put Sergio Martinez at No. 6 in their Middleweight rankings. It was a ludicrous decision that only harms boxing’s credibility but it got me thinking about what are the biggest issues facing modern boxing.

There are of the obvious ones like the sanctioning bodies polluting weight divisions with too many belts making it much harder for fans to keep track on an overly complicated world title scene, and then there’s promotional rivalries stopping or delaying the best match ups (Crawford v Spence, Joshua v Fury, etc., etc). However, in my opinion weight cutting and rehydrating is a big issue too. As you’ve pointed out before fighters of previous eras were much more focused on improving their skills and techniques in training camps whereas I feel nowadays fighters are too focused on the physical aspects, i.e. making weight, strength and conditioning and so on which is causing overall skill levels to decline. I am no expert and could be completely wrong of course but what are your thoughts on the matter and the issues facing boxing today?

Sorry for the long rant! Keep it up. – Tommy, London

I think the biggest problem is the fractured nature of the business. There’s not enough “street crossing” between the top fighters of the three major broadcast/promotional entities – PBC/Showtime/FOX, ESPN/Top Rank and DAZN/Matchroom/Golden Boy. You know this, you know the super fights that aren’t happening because you’re a hardcore fan, but the casual fans don’t even know who the elite fighters are anymore because they’re not active enough and they aren’t engaging in significant/legacy building fights. I think if the right big fights/major events were taking place, year after year, the sport would attract (and retain) more fans and money. Also, I think the more the factions work together, the more significant fights can be made, and the busier the world-class and elite boxers will be – this would also boost the popularity of the sport. 

Fighter safety is right up there, too. The sport needs better commissions, better officiating, better regulation (especially the amount of weight fighters lose to make weight and how much they put on following the previous-day weigh-ins) and, of course, better (and more comprehensive) PED testing. 

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The Ring champ and best lightweight in the world, Vasiliy Lomachenko, and Yours Truly.

I don’t fret too much about the sanctioning organizations and the plethora of title belts, or their poor divisional rankings. At the risk of sounding smug, I think The Ring rankings and champions offer boxing fans all the clarity they need. Check out our rankings. If The Ring champ isn’t hands down the best fighter in his division, he’s the most accomplished. And if the Ring championship is vacant, you better believe that our No. 1 contender deserves to be in the top spot. (Eight of the 10 boxers among the Pound-for-Pound rankings of both ESPN.com and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board – Canelo, Lomachenko, Inoue, Crawford, Usyk, Fury, Estrada and Pacquiao – are either current or former Ring Magazine champs.) 

 

BEST FILIPINO ONE-HITTER-QUITTERS

What’s good Doug?

I ended up falling down a Filipino YouTube rabbit hole and came across some real gems. How do you rank the following KO’s?

Gerry Penalosa v Jhonny Gonzalez

Nonito Donaire v Vic Darchynian

Pacquiao v Hatton

And also, how do you respectively rank each fighter? Keep doing your thing and thanks. – Alan

I gotta go with this month’s special issue cover star, Manny Pacquiao, at No. 1, Filipino Flash at No. 2, and Fearless Geronimo at No. 3. 

And I’ll rank their beautiful one-punch KOs in the same order. Donaire’s KO of the Year shocker vs. Darchinyan is arguably the most significant because of how dominant Vic had been at flyweight (and how much of an underdog he was going into that 2007

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A sixth divisional title (140 pounds) was claimed at the expense of Britain’s Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)

IBF title bout), but the Pac-Monster’s second-round slaying of the Mad Hatter was one of the most savage knockouts I’ve ever witnessed from ringside. I (along with half of press row) instantly jumped to my feet and exclaimed “Holy shit!” as Hatton hit the canvas, then almost immediately felt profound concern for the fallen Englishman. The dedicated legions of loyal (and very vocal fans) both men brought to the Ring Magazine junior welterweight championship added to the intensity and drama of the brief and one-sided showdown. Penalosa’s stoppage of Gonzalez was dramatic (as the former 115-pound beltholder was behind on the scorecards after six pedestrian rounds) but the fight and atmosphere (at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, I was there with MaxBoxing.com cohort Steve Kim in 2007) was average. The stoppage was also kind of weird. Gonzalez took a counter left to ribcage near the end of Round 7, which didn’t look like much in real time, then took a step back before taking a delayed effect fall to his knees. Rumors that Gonzalez, who weighed in at 116¾ pounds for the WBO bantamweight title defense, had either over-trained or outgrown the division also robbed the victory of some of its luster. But it was a feel good story for the Filipino veteran, who had toiled in anonymity for so many years (even as a junior bantamweight beltholder in Asia), to win a major world title in the U.S. (on HBO).

 

THE CURRENT HEAVYWEIGHT ERA

Hi Doug,

Dillian Whyte’s knockout loss to Alexander Povetkin, as he was looking on the verge of a stoppage himself, not only reinforced the same age-old adage of “All it takes in heavyweight boxing is one punch” but also showed that the Russian is not finished yet. He is still a very live opponent for any current heavyweight.

However, the more I think about this current heavyweight era, I have to ask, do you think it’ll be in any way comparable to previous great generations once this era comes to an end? I believe the competition is great, but not sure about the talent, or perhaps more importantly, the willingness to prove their talent.

Anthony Joshua has a really good resume in terms of consistency in beating top-10 opponents, but he has to beat or at least put up a respectable fighting effort against at least one of Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder to be a future Hall of Famer. Until the fights are official, I’m still not entirely sure either will ever happen.

Fury I believe could retire today and be a hall of famer, so he is in a different boat to the others imo. For Fury it is now a case of cementing boxing immortality. He has the defining victories and an incredible comeback to be a HOFer already imo, but then what I think is regarding his quest to immortality… when does consistency and longevity come into play? Past greats like Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis and Larry Holmes proved their credentials as ultimate champions by beating the best available to become champions, then defending against all-comers with different styles. The manner in which Fury beat two long-reigning champions of 10 or more title defences in their own backyards, against all odds, was truly incredible, but will his potential hesitation in defending his belts on a consistent basis in the long term not affect his all-time status? He seems like he only wants the absolute biggest fights and then be done for good. Can’t fault a man for doing what he believes is best for his life and career, but would this affect his standing amongst heavyweight greats? Fury is a very special talent and has the potential to be amongst the greatest ever imo. Likes of Ali and Joe Louis are in a realm of their own for me, but can he be considered anywhere remotely close to the likes of Holmes and Lewis without showing some long-term consistency?

With Deontay Wilder, I just don’t think he has enough quality wins. His 10 title defences and the amazing KO ratio he had in the process was a special run, but wins against the likes of Joseph Parker or Whyte would have bolstered his respectability substantially. There’s also the Povetkin fight which fell through, which wasn’t Deontay’s fault at all, but how do we know in hindsight that would’ve been a foregone conclusion of a win for Wilder? As the Russian showed recently, his style could’ve been all wrong for Wilder.

Lack of quality opponents followed by the way he got beat by Fury leave many questions lingering about Wilder’s credentials.

Have to see how Wilder does in the Fury rubber-match but it’s got me thinking, will ‘poli-tricks’ be the downfall of a heavyweight generation that can potentially be great? Is a mixture of boxing politics and fighters’ potential unwillingness to fight the best consistently ridding the fans of a special era, and ridding fighters of the opportunity to cement their legacies? – Sina

Yes. What made the 1970s and the 1990s “Golden Eras” for the heavyweight division was the number of world-class big men and their willingness to mix it up, round robin style. The “cream” that rose to the top during these competitive decades: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman (who competed in both decades), Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis are beyond hall of famers – they are considered all-time greats.  

If we could get Fury vs. Joshua and the winner vs. Wilder (or the Fury-Wilder 3 winner vs. AJ), Andy Ruiz vs. Joseph Parker and the winner vs. Alexander Povetkin or Dillian Whyte, and then the winner of that matchup to take on the Fury/Joshua/Wilder winner, we would have something like heavyweight action fans witnessed in the ’70s and ’90s. But I don’t see it happening. We’ll be lucky if we get Fury-Wilder 3 this year.

Anthony Joshua has a really good resume in terms of consistency in beating top-10 opponents, but he has to beat or at least put up a respectable fighting effort against at least one of Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder to be a future Hall of Famer. I think Joshua wants to prove his mettle vs. Fury and Wilder, but I don’t think we’ll ever see him share the ring with the American puncher. A showdown with Fury is more likely, but we may have to wait a long time for it due to the pandemic, Fury’s contractual obligations to Wilder, Joshua’s obligations to the mandatory challengers of the three sanctioning organization belts he holds, and their promotional/platform ties to ESPN/DAZN.

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Fury defeated future hall of famer Wlad Klitschko in 2015. (Photo by Marianne Mueller/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

For Fury it is now a case of cementing boxing immortality. He has the defining victories and an incredible comeback to be a HOFer already imo, but then what I think is regarding his quest to immortality… when does consistency and longevity come into play? I think it should come into play with his potential hall-of-fame status. Beating Klitschko and Wilder solidified his claim as the lineal champ and made him the Ring/WBC champ. It doesn’t automatically make him a hall of famer in my view.

Past greats like Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis and Larry Holmes proved their credentials as ultimate champions by beating the best available to become champions, then defending against all-comers with different styles. The manner in which Fury beat two long-reigning champions of 10 or more title defences in their own backyards, against all odds, was truly incredible, but will his potential hesitation in defending his belts on a consistent basis in the long term not affect his all-time status? Of course, it will. He’s got to do more, A LOT more, if he wants to rank among the great heavyweights. After Klitschko and Wilder, who is the third best opponent that Fury has faced? Dereck Chisora? Steve Cunningham?

Likes of Ali and Joe Louis are in a realm of their own for me, but can he be considered anywhere remotely close to the likes of Holmes and Lewis without showing some long-term consistency? Not in my book.

With Deontay Wilder, I just don’t think he has enough quality wins. He’s got Luis Ortiz (twice) and Bermane Stiverne (first bout). Those are the Ring-rated fighters he defeated.

His 10 title defences and the amazing KO ratio he had in the process was a special run, but wins against the likes of Joseph Parker or Whyte would have bolstered his respectability substantially. No doubt about it.

Lack of quality opponents followed by the way he got beat by Fury leave many questions lingering about Wilder’s credentials. Rightfully so. Hopefully, he gets the opportunity and makes the effort to redeem/prove himself.

 

WHAT-IFS

Hey Dougie,

Nice work on the pull-ups, or chin-ups as I guess people call them. Either way, they’re tough.

These strange times have me watching old fights and thinking about “boxing wrongs” and imagining an alternative universe where the correct outcome occurred.

A couple examples, how different is GGGs career and the boxing world if he got the decision in the first Canelo fight? Is Golovkin’s legacy different? Would the rematch have gone differently?

What if Kovalev got the decision in the first Ward fight? Do we view Andre or Sergey’s careers differently? Does Kovalev do better in the rematch?

Another, I think I’ve read you don’t think Margarito had plaster in his wraps during Cotto I, but assume as many believe, that he did. If Evanglasita Cotto discovered the plaster pad like Nazim before the fight, and the fight resembled the first half with Cotto wining a close UD, what does Cottos career look like? Does his uncle remain his trainer? Does he fight Pacquiao at 147 and not 145? Does that fight go differently? Is Cotto not viewed as the vulnerable warrior?

Can you think of any that I’m missing? – Tyler

Jose Luis Castillo comes to mind. If he’d received the decision in the first bout vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr., I reckon being the only pro boxer to have an official victory against Mayweather would’ve carried a lot of weight, probably would ensure his hall of fame induction.

How different is GGG’s career and the boxing world if he got the decision in the first Canelo fight? To me, he’s the same fighter, one of the longest reigning middleweight champs ever and a future hall of famer. I don’t judge fighters by their records, I evaluate their performances. Had Mayweather lost that first bout with Castillo, heck if Oscar De La Hoya or Marcos Maidana (first bout) held him to a draw, it wouldn’t lessen my view of his abilities or overall accomplishments. 50-0, 49-1, 48-0-2, 48-1-1, it doesn’t matter at all to me. It’s who he fought, when he fought them and what happened in the ring that counts with me. But if Golovkin won the first bout with Canelo, as he should have, he would have earned the Ring and lineal status, enjoyed the most significant pro victory of any fighter from Kazakhstan and more popularity in the U.S., and he probably would have made more money in 2018 and 2019. But I think the main difference would have been his attitude and view of boxing, I think he would be a lot less bitter/jaded on the sport.

Is Golovkin’s legacy different? I don’t think so. Maybe he’d be rated a little higher in the pound-for-pound rankings but he a lock for the IBHOF with or without that ‘W’ vs. Canelo.

Would the rematch have gone differently? I don’t think so. Win or lose, Canelo was going to learn from the first fight and make the necessary adjustments in the rematch, which was a legit toss-up.

What if Kovalev got the decision in the first Ward fight? He’d have another hall of fame scalp on his resume and he would have retained his three major world titles.

Do we view Andre or Sergey’s careers differently? Not much. Ward would lose the mystique of the undefeated record, but he would still get credit for clawing his way back into the fight over the second half. They’d still do the rematch. Kovalev would have a short victory lap, which probably wouldn’t do anything positive for his health, and Ward’s supporters would say their man figured the Russian out (and they’d be correct).

Does Kovalev do better in the rematch? I don’t think so, not unless Team Kovalev could get a referee with zero tolerance for low blows, but even then, I think Ward would have had more energy and confidence down the stretch of the fight.

I think I’ve read you don’t think Margarito had plaster in his wraps during Cotto I, but assume as many believe, that he did. OK, but he didn’t.

If Evanglasita Cotto discovered the plaster pad like Nazim before the fight, and the fight resembled the first half with Cotto wining a close UD, what does Cotto’s career look like? “Plaster” wraps or no, Cotto still would have taken a career-shortening beating – even in a victory – had he lasted to the final bell with a lead on the scorecards (just as Margarito took a career-shortening beating during the first half of the bout). But getting the victory, and not having to deal with the mental anguish of wondering if Margarito loaded his wraps in that 2008 barnburner would have added to his confidence going forward. Even with the devastating loss, Cotto put forth a hall-of-fame worthy career, so replace it with a hard-fought victory and you gotta figure he’d be able to do a little more, maybe last a little longer. But he still would have lost to Pacquiao, Mayweather, Trout and Canelo in my opinion.

Does his uncle remain his trainer? No, they were always at odds, sometimes at each other’s throats. They would have split regardless of the Margarito loss/controversy.

Does he fight Pacquiao at 147 and not 145? No, I think PacMan, who was coming off back-to-back megafights with De La Hoya and Hatton, was still the bigger star and would have forced Cotto to sweat out those extra two pounds.

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Pacquiao collected a title in a seventh division (147 pounds) when the great Miguel Cotto was stopped in the final round. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Does that fight go differently? No, not in my opinion. Maybe he tries to go toe-to-toe for five or six rounds, instead of for four rounds, but that version of Pacquiao was too much for any version of Cotto.

Is Cotto not viewed as the vulnerable warrior? Despite being undefeated in 32 bouts, he wasn’t viewed as invulnerable going into the first Margarito fight. He was rocked badly by DeMarcus Corley (and needed some hometown officiating to end that fight a bi prematurely) and he went life-and-death vs. Ricardo Torres at 140 pounds. Zab Judah, a 35-year-old Shane Mosley and Josh Clottey had their moments against him at 147 pounds in tough fights. And, of course, post Margarito, the showdown with the Pac-Monster was almost as bloody and brutal. But the fact that he could be hurt, had a tendency to cut and swell, but would usually fight through the adversity, is what made Cotto special and a must-watch fighter.

 

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.

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