Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Juan Francisco Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Efe Ajagba)

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ESTRADA FINALLY GETS THE BIG WIN

Hello Doug,

So happy for Gallito Estrada. This guy has been one of those guys that has all the talent in the world but hadn’t been able to pull the trigger on the big fights.

Yes, he beat Cuadras and Viloria, but those fighters either weren’t in their prime or weren’t elite. Beating Sor Rungvisai finally validates all the things that have been said about how good this small fighter is. Yes, he had to have the perfect night and also have Sor Rungvisai have the worst plan since Marvin Hagler went righty vs. Sugar Ray Leonard, to win the fight; but that’s all that matters, sometimes you need that win to become more confident.

I think Estrada felt he won the first fight and his level of confidence for this one was through the roof. He went in and in the first 5 seconds he was already throwing combinations, I knew right there that my prediction of Sor Rungvisai winning by KO was probably out the window. I saw him win 7 out of the first 8 rounds. Then after Sor Rungvisai noticed he had the worst plan ever, he changed back to lefty and starting getting to Gallito and won the next 3 rounds in my card. I got Gallito winning the last round to seal the deal. I could also see it 7-5 and wouldn’t be mad.

Now, on to the rest of the card, Roman and Doheny was obviously the fight of the night. Wow, what cojones by both fighters, this is what happens when the best fight the best.

Sad for Zorrita Soto who was actually hanging in there vs the bigger Vargas but I guess it was inevitable that he would get clipped by the younger man. Overall best card of the year.

Main problem watching from TV: the commentators. Brian Kenny, Chris Mannix and Sergio Mora are not good together. They say so many dumb things it’s almost sad to hear. Please DAZN, bring in Jim Lampley; he’s not working, he’s the best, please do it, your programing would sound professional. These guys make you look like the PBC in their early days with their time buys for FREEEEEE! (Thanks Steve Kim).

Anyways, fun night of boxing. Looking forward to Canelo-Jacobs, it’s going to be a very interesting chess match. Thanks Doug! – Juan Valverde, San Diego

That’s how I see Saturday’s middleweight championship, an intense boxing matchup between two complete boxers with contrasting styles. May the best man win – without controversy (please!).

I haven’t had time to watch the DAZN broadcast of Friday’s fine night of boxing from my hometown, so I can’t weigh-in on your opinion about the commentators, but on an individual basis I believe that Kenny, Mannix and Mora are very good. Maybe they were off on Friday, or perhaps, the chemistry just doesn’t quite work with that particular trio combo. Now I’m curious about what they said that you thought was so “dumb.” (Be more specific in your criticism next time! LOL). I’ll definitely have to check it out.

Regarding DAZN bringing Lampley into the fold, damn, you make it sound like he’s homeless or destitute. “Give him a JOB, DAZN, Please! The poor man is not working!” Keep this mind about Lamps, who’s a certified hall of famer (arguably the best boxing play-by-play commentator ever), you’ve never heard him alongside anybody but Merchant, Foreman, Steward, Kellerman, Jones and Ward. He worked great with them, but that doesn’t mean he’d be the right fit with the crew that DAZN is currently working with. Chemistry.

So happy for Gallito Estrada. He’s definitely paid the cost to be the boss in a second weight class. He’s young vet you gotta root for if you’re a hardcore fan (although some are so elated that he won that they’re pissed off an anybody who didn’t score 10 or 11 rounds for Estrada on Friday, so I’ve got three words for each and everyone of those nut cakes: GET. A. GRIP.)

This guy has been one of those guys that has all the talent in the world but hadn’t been able to pull the trigger on the big fights. I think he’s had many significant world-class victories, but there’s no denying that Sor Rungvisai is the most respected and highest-profile opponent that he’s defeated.

Yes, he beat Cuadras and Viloria, but those fighters either weren’t in their prime or weren’t elite. I don’t agree with that view. Viloria may not have been at his physical peak when he faced Estrada in Macau in 2013, but he wasn’t faded at all; in fact, he was a two-belt flyweight champ who was on a six-bout win streak that included an impressive title-unifying stoppage of Tyson Marquez, a dominant stoppage of once-beaten former Ring 108-pound champ Giovani Segura and a revenge TKO against Omar Nino Romero. If memory serves me, there was some clamoring among media members for Viloria to crack the P4P rankings after either the Segura or Marquez victories. And Cuadras is a decorated former titleholder who had only one loss (a competitive decision to Chocolatito Gonzalez) in 37 bouts when he faced Estrada on the first “SuperFly” card. The troubled Mexican may not be in his prime or a top contender right now, but he was in 2017.

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Estrada tags the body of Sor Rungvisai en route to winning their rematch. Photo by German Villsenor

Beating Sor Rungvisai finally validates all the things that have been said about how good this small fighter is. Indeed. Mexico now has a second Ring Magazine champion, and arguably another pound-for-pound player. Mover over, Canelo, you’ve got company.

Yes, he had to have the perfect night and also have Sor Rungvisai have the worst plan since Marvin Hagler went righty vs. Sugar Ray Leonard, to win the fight; but that’s all that matters, sometimes you need that win to become more confident. Hey, a win is a win, and Srisaket is a f__king beast, even when he boxes a stupid fight for nine rounds.

I think Estrada felt he won the first fight and his level of confidence for this one was through the roof. Agreed.

I saw him win 7 out of the first 8 rounds. I had it 6-2 after eight rounds (scoring Rounds 2 and 6 to Marvelous MarvRungvisai).

Then after Sor Rungvisai noticed he had the worst plan ever, he changed back to lefty and starting getting to Gallito and won the next 3 rounds in my card. Going back to lefty enabled the Thai Tank to make it a proper fight down the stretch. They won’t admit it now, but I know there were more than a few Estrada fans that feared their man might get clipped during one of those heated exchanges in the championship rounds.

I got Gallito winning the last round to seal the deal. I scored the last three rounds for Sor Rungvisai.

I could also see it 7-5 and wouldn’t be mad. I had it 7-5 in rounds for Estrada.

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Roman catches Donheny with an uppercut. Photo / DAZN

Now, on to the rest of the card, Roman and Doheny was obviously the fight of the night. Danny and TJ upstaged Estrada and Sor Rungvisai, which many of us diehards knew was a possibility, but it was still riveting to witness two world titleholders as evenly matched as Roman and Doheny pushing themselves to the limit for 12 rounds. The junior featherweights combined for several dramatic moments during that title unification bout. Roman’s body attack was the difference in my view.

Wow, what cojones by both fighters, this is what happens when the best fight the best. Yes Sir. And I think we can expect more of this. I’ve received more than a few emails from disillusioned fans in recent weeks frustrated that the top two or three heavyweights and welterweights are not fighting each other, and I understand their bitterness toward boxing business. However, one thing that irks me about many of the “bitch-and-moaners” is that they act like this is the way it is in every damn division, which is bulls__t. We just had the top two 115-pounders clash for the second time on Friday, and two top-five (or so) junior featherweights go at it in the co-featured bout. They next day we had two top-five junior welterweights (Prograis and Relikh) duke it out. On Saturday, we’ve got two of the top three or four middleweights clashing for the lineal/Ring/WBA/WBC/IBF championship. One week later two of the top five junior lightweights (Berchelt and Vargas) will face each other in a rematch. Two weeks later, we’ll have two of the top three bantamweights (Inoue and Rodriguez) and two of the top-five (or so) junior welterweights (Taylor and Baranchyk) battle it out. That’s seven fights in six division where the top fighters are facing each other in just a little over three weeks.

Sad for Zorrita Soto who was actually hanging in there vs the bigger Vargas but I guess it was inevitable that he would get clipped by the younger man. Yeah, Soto was reminding me of old, pudgy Roberto Duran at middleweight during the mid-to-late 80s for a few fun rounds there, but Jessie and Father Time caught up to the wily 82-bout veteran. I wasn’t sad for Soto. I celebrated his guts, effort and skills.

Overall best card of the year. So far, yes, I agree.

 

SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING

Hi Dougie,

Hope this finds you and the family living the dream. Not a lot of excitement on Showtime this weekend. As they say, styles make fights, and neither Robert Easter or Rances Barthelemy, both counter-punchers looking for an opportunity seemed to have a plan B. They sort of boxed around each other for 12 rounds; at least the judges had it right as a draw. I’m not clamoring for a rematch.

Postol and Mimoune had a little more action, but not much. At least the Showtime Championship Boxing crew called it like it was, and didn’t try to whitewash a boring card. They showed again that they are the class of the broadcasters. They are heads above all their competition. Paulie Malignaggi has become the best of the former boxers to turn to the microphone.

Which brings me to the real point of this letter – Efe Ajagba. I honestly knew nothing about him, but his potential is exciting. Hitting Wallisch when he took a knee didn’t look good. What do you think of him?

I can’t think of any heavyweight, let alone one his size, that boxes like a lightweight. His output was really extraordinary, his jabs and 1-2 combinations. Do you think he could sustain such an attack for 10 or 12 rounds? Can he take a punch? Where does he go from here?

While a different type of fighter altogether, a young Mike Tyson walked through everybody until Buster Douglas took him into the late rounds in his upset that put his name in the history books. When do Ajagba’s team place him into a higher level of competition?

As always, thanks for the mailbag and also the print magazine. Should have subscribed a long time ago. – Ken Kozberg, Oakham, MA

Thanks for the kind words on this column and the magazine. I’m glad you’re enjoying it and appreciate that you’re a subscriber.

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Heavyweight Efe Ajagba. Photo credit: Stephanie Trapp/TrappFotos

Regarding the three bouts Showtime televised from Las Vegas on Saturday, as far as I’m concerned, we had the Ajagba showcase and two very long walkout bouts. I enjoy watching Ajaba fight and I think he’s got real talent, ability and potential. He’s definitely a heavyweight prospect worth keeping an eye on.

When do Ajagba’s team place him into a higher level of competition? Once they’re able to assess his performance against a tough and defiant opponent that can take him quality rounds. So far as a pro, he’s only gone past two rounds once and he’s never been past six.

I can’t think of any heavyweight, let alone one his size, that boxes like a lightweight. The young version of Wladimir Klitschko used to fight with the punch volume and pace of a much lighter fighter (a style and mentality that helped lead to his first and third losses vs. Ross Puritty and Lamon Brewster). So did former fringe contender Derrick Jefferson (who, like Wladdy, is actually taller and bigger than Ajagba). Jefferson found himself in more shootouts than he should have been in due to this freakish activity and, as Wlad did vs. Ross The Boss, he infamously punched himself out (in a fight he was winning) versus Ajagba’s fellow Nigerian David Izon.

Do you think he could sustain such an attack for 10 or 12 rounds? I doubt it, but I don’t know for sure.

Can he take a punch? I have no idea. If he can, he’s gonna be a real threat.

Where does he go from here? He’s gotta go rounds to get better, so his handlers have to find a heavyweight tough enough to take him the distance but not so experienced that they’ll overwhelm him. Matchmaking ain’t easy. A rugged veteran like Johann Duhaupuss might be the perfect opponent, or the former title challenger could be a very slippery stepping stone for an inexperienced puncher like Ajagba.

As they say, styles make fights, and neither Robert Easter or Rances Barthelemy, both counter-punchers looking for an opportunity seemed to have a plan B. Some styles DON’T make fights.

They sort of boxed around each other for 12 rounds; at least the judges had it right as a draw. That wasn’t boxing, that was interpretive dance.

I’m not clamoring for a rematch. Nobody’s ever gonna REWATCH that fight let alone think about a rematch.

Postol and Mimoune had a little more action, but not much. The less said about both co-mains, the better, Ken. Some fights don’t deserve analysis.

At least the Showtime Championship Boxing crew called it like it was, and didn’t try to whitewash a boring card. Bless them all. There’s no doubt in my mind they were paying closer attention than the judges, who had to be hating their jobs that night.

They showed again that they are the class of the broadcasters. I agree with this opinion, as do many hardcore fans.

They are heads above all their competition. Jeez, you don’t have to rub it in, Ken.

Paulie Malignaggi has become the best of the former boxers to turn to the microphone. That seems to be the consensus opinion among fans on both sides of the Pond. Paulie’s a natural but you can tell that he works at his craft, which is what all the elite commentators have in common. I think Showtime’s other former champ commentator, Raul Marquez, who works the ShoBox broadcasts with the hall-of-famer duo of Barry Tompkins and Steve Farhood, is also very good (and underrated); and I know I’m biased because I’ve worked with him, but I think the “Flushing Flash,” former featherweight champ Kevin Kelley is very insightful.

 

SRISAKET SOR RUNGVISAI

Hi Doug,
I live in Northern Thailand, and have written to you a few times about Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The local media is already really not happy about his decision to box orthodox for much of the fight. It’s not quite a national scandal, but everyone in my village is aware of it.

That was a very conclusive victory. People here are already blaming his new wife and his no longer being poor…

The reason I wrote is because I was asked, but did not know: was there any drug/PED testing carried out for this fight? The reason people point it out is that it was very clear that Rungvisai’s skin and musculature wasn’t as crisp as the Mexican, and he didn’t take as good a shot… One boy was a fighter, and one boy looked like a superman…

Presumably this would have been covered by the Californian State Athletic Commission? But what did they actually test for? Thanks. – K

The CSAC handled the drug testing for the Sor Rungvisai-Estrada rematch. The commission’s executive director, Andy Foster, is a former fighter (MMA) and a big proponent of combat sports safety, so stringent anti-doping testing is something he’s pushed for since taking the helm of the CSAC in 2102. I could be mistaken but I believe that the CSAC tests for everything that is on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited substance list. 

(WADA is the international organization that sets the anti-doping policies and regulations that the Olympic Committee, national and state commissions, and voluntary anti-doping associations, such as VADA and USADA, follow.) I don’t think the CSAC testing is as comprehensive as VADA’s but it’s top class.

As the defending WBC titleholder and the sanctioning body’s No. 1 contender, Sor Rungvisai and Estrada should have both been enrolled in the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program, which is administered by VADA, so, ideally, both were subject to random testing by the gold standard of anti-doping associations leading into Friday’s rematch. That doesn’t mean they were, just that they both agreed to be tested.

I noticed that Estrada’s physique was more defined/conditioned looking than Sor Rungvisai’s but all that could mean is that the Mexican trained harder or better than the Thai champ, and your national hero – who was down to 119.4 pounds for the WBC’s 14-day weigh-in (Estrada was 121) – may have come down in weight too soon and as a result put too much water weight back on after Thursday’s official weigh-in.

Estrada’s never failed a drug test that I’m aware of, and I don’t consider “body type” or “skin conditions” to be reliable red flags for PED use, so I’m not about to start casting aspersions on the new champ. I hope Sor Rungvisai’s fans in Thailand fans aren’t doing that.

The local media is already really not happy about his decision to box orthodox for much of the fight. Well, yeah, it was a pretty stupid thing to do.

That was a very conclusive victory. People here are already blaming his new wife and his no longer being poor… Marvin Hagler said it’s hard to get up to do roadwork when you’re sleeping in silk sheets, and the Mickey Goldmill character from the Rocky film infamously warned his fighter: “Women weaken legs!” Your now-former champ should have listened to these boxing icons instead of imitating their poor stance-switching strategies (Hagler, a great southpaw, fought right-handed during the early rounds of his controversial loss to Sugar Ray Leonard; Mickey had Rocky box right-handed of his rematch with Apollo Creed).

But hey, it’s just a loss. I think Sor Rungvisai is still a major player at 115 pounds, or at bantamweight, and I’d love to see him take on old foe Carlos Cuadras at either weight, or one of the other junior bantamweight beltholders, such as Kal Yafai or Jerwin Ancajas.

 

BUILDING FIGHTERS ON THE ROAD

Good Day Dougie –

I hope all is well. Why do you think the top fighters don’t go on the road anymore & fight in various countries? I always look at Ali & think that it can only increase your profile. I know personally I follow fighters that I see live or at least have increased interest. I honestly think Crawford should maybe entertain that idea, travel & stay busy IF the top dogs don’t fight him.

I’m also a fan of The Rougarou, not just because he has the ‘take all comers’ attitude but because he’s from New Orleans & maybe if he keeps building his fame maybe we can get a big Superdome fight so that I can lure my casual fan friends in. I think the city is designed for huge sporting events, why not boxing?

Speaking of Terence Crawford, since he’s not likely to get the top fights I think his best options at the moment would be Kell Brook followed by an Omaha showcase with his mandatory Egidijus Kavaliauskus if he wins. What’s your opinion if you were guiding him?

MM:

Sweetpea vs Juan Manuel Marquez @ 135lbs

Marvin Hagler v James Toney @ 165lb catchweight

Oleksandr Usyk v Chris Byrd @ HW

Thanks. – Jamaal, Louisiana

I gotta go with Whitaker, Toney (and I know I’m gonna catch hell for that opinion) and Usyk by decision.

Why do you think the top fighters don’t go on the road anymore & fight in various countries? Some are paranoid of getting treated unfairly or robbed overseas, others simply aren’t in demand in other countries (or lack suitable dance partners in other parts of the world), and some just don’t think about getting out of dodge.

I always look at Ali & think that it can only increase your profile. Ali HAD to fight outside of the U.S. for periods during his polarizing prime years (many U.S. jurisdictions wouldn’t license him), and he was in global demand during the 1970s. He also fought during an era when top boxers were more active – and HAD to be in order to make a good living. Today’s top fighters, such as Crawford, make guaranteed millions fighting anybody in their home country, and most are on a twice-a-year schedule.

I’m also a fan of The Rougarou, not just because he has the ‘take all comers’ attitude but because he’s from New Orleans & maybe if he keeps building his fame maybe we can get a big Superdome fight so that I can lure my casual fan friends in. That would be awesome (and would definitely bring me back to New Orleans, where I have relatives). Hey, if he can win the WBSS and maybe one or two bouts at 147 pounds maybe he and Crawford could get it on in the Big Easy.

I think the city is designed for huge sporting events, why not boxing? Exactly! I think the right boxing event could bring in the dedicated Texas fans. Prograis is the key. He looks like the real deal, and he’s got the right personality, but getting by the Baranchyk-Taylor winner will be a major challenge.

Speaking of Terence Crawford, since he’s not likely to get the top fights I think his best options at the moment would be Kell Brook followed by an Omaha showcase with his mandatory Egidijus Kavaliauskus if he wins. What’s your opinion if you were guiding him? Gotta be honest with you. Jamaal, I don’t care much for either of those matchups. I know I’m in the minority with this opinion, but I’d rather see Bud take on the best of the 140-pound division while he waits for the PBC Players, beltholder like Mo Hooker (who, by the way, would make for a perfect New Orleans main event against Prograis).

 

 

Email Fischer at dougie@boxingmailbag.com. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track.

The post Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Juan Francisco Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Efe Ajagba) appeared first on The Ring.

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