Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Vasiliy Lomachenko, Apinun Khongsong, HOF vs. ATG)

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LOMACHENKO’S PATH

Afternoon Dougie,

Wanted to follow your advice and not bring up a lawsuit that I know almost nothing about. Kell Brook was asked about this on his Instagram story the other day and responded with “believe half of what you read and even less of what you hear”. Think we should all follow this advice regarding Canelo’s situation.

Two questions today (plus a wee MM):

First is about my boy Josh Taylor. Have you seen much of his next opponent Apinun Khongsong? If so, what are your thoughts on him and how do you think the fight goes (my two cents is that Khongsong seems to have enormous disadvantages in all departments but particularly his speed and his punching technique, it’s heavily loaded and very looping. I suspect we see a similar fight to Taylor’s fight with O’Hara Davis, albeit against a slower opponent.)

On Friday’s mailbag, you said that you think Loma will beat Lopez (which I agree with) but he won’t run the gauntlet against Haney, Garica or Tank (I would favour him to beat all those guys individually but not in a streak). Given that it doesn’t matter since we almost certainly won’t see those fights, if Loma wins, what do you think he should do, since 135 seems to be his physical limit, he has a lot of years on him, he’s been in several grueling fights and he fights in a division where fighters age like bread?

MM:

Regis Prograis Vs Gatti

Willie Pep vs Salvador Sanchez

Hope this reaches you safe and well. – Euan, Dunfermline, Scotland

Prograis by close decision in a brutal war (what else could it be?), Pep by close UD or MD. 

If Lomachenko beats Lopez, he will solidify his claim as the undisputed lightweight champ in the eyes of most boxing fans (I know Devin Haney holds the official WBC title but he didn’t beat anybody to earn the green belt and, to be Frank, he hasn’t beaten any world-class 135 pounders yet). My guess is that he will want to defend his crown unless there is a compelling matchup to be made at 126 or 130 pounds.  

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El Alacran! Photo by Chris Farina – Top Rank

The winner of the proposed 130-pound showdown between WBO titleholder Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez will be enticed to step up five pounds to challenge Lomachenko because there’s more money and significance to fight for The Ring lightweight championship and several major belts. Again, this is just a hunch on my part, but I think Loma would rather defend his universal recognition as lightweight champ than drop back down to 130 to challenge for a belt he’s already held.  

If Berchelt beats Valdez like most fans are predicting (although I think it’s foolish to count Oscar out), I actually think he might be better suited fighting at 135. (That dude is HUGE.) 

Beyond the Berchelt-Valdez winner, there will be Loma’s mandatory challengers. The most lucrative challenger would be Gervonta Davis, provided “Tank” defends his WBA “regular” title against Leo Santa Cruz next month. That showdown would take a lot of negotiating, but it might be worth it for either side to allow their lightweight star to cross the street – either Lomachenko defending his crown on Showtime PPV or Tank taking on his toughest test on ESPN or ESPN PPV. It’s a longshot, but maybe Top Rank and the PBC would be willing to do another joint promotion as they did with Wilder-Fury 2 (and are committed to doing with Fury-Wilder 3). 

If that fight can’t be worked out, I’m guessing Loma would satisfy his WBO mandatory vs. Lee Selby at some point. Beyond the mandatories there’s Top Rank’s Puerto Rican project, Felix Verdejo (who lost to Loma in Olympic competition, as Valdez did). If Verdejo can get another two or three solid victories under his belt, he’d make a nice B-side in a New York City event.  

So, I’m thinking Loma will remain at 135 through 2021 and maybe part of 2022 but allow me toss out this crazy scenario: Emanuel Navarette and Ruben Villa fight for the vacant WBO 122-pound title on Oct. 9. Naoya Inoue defends his Ring Magazine/WBA/IBF bantamweight titles vs. Jason Moloney on Oct. 31. Let’s say Inoue prevails on Halloween (and I don’t think Moloney should be overlooked, by the way), then targets whoever holds the WBO 122-pound title next year and, in sensational fashion, wins the belt. I might be out of my mind, but to me, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for The Bobfather to talk Loma into dropping back down to 126 for a superfight vs. The Monster. 

OK, I’ll lay off the rum and ginger beer next mailbag.

First is about my boy Josh Taylor. Have you seen much of his next opponent Apinun Khongsong? I’ve only watched one fight of the unbeaten Thai up-and-comer, his fifth-round stoppage of Akihiro Kondo because the Japanese veteran is the only name I recognize on his record. (If you recall, Kondo hung tough with Sergey Lipinets for 12 hard rounds in an IBF title bout in 2017.)

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Khongsong (right) and Kondo go at it in Tokyo.

If so, what are your thoughts on him and how do you think the fight goes. (my two cents is that Khongsong seems to have enormous disadvantages in all departments but particularly his speed and his punching technique, it’s heavily loaded and very looping. I suspect we see a similar fight to Taylor’s fight with O’Hara Davis, albeit against a slower opponent.) Yeah, I agree with your take, but Khongsong might be tougher than Davis. He also might hit harder than Davis. He took out Kondo with a single uppercut in Round 5 (and that’s the only time Kondo has been stopped in 42 pro bouts). Sampson Lewkowicz signed Khongsong to a promotional contract, and Lewkowicz, as you might know, has a keen eye for talent and generally doesn’t sign guys he doesn’t believe have real potential. But having said that, Khongsong didn’t look like a world-class fighter to me vs. Kondo, who is not only short and plodding with stubby T-rex arms, but likely shopworn. And yet, Kondo was able to nail Khongsong with jabs and straight right hands before walking into that big uppercut. The Thai is tough and rangy, he’s got a decent jab and right hand, but as you noted, his hand speed is average and he tends to wing his punches. I’ve gotta figure Taylor will outclass him.

 

BEST FIGHTER WITH THE WORST LOSS

So, yesterday, my Dad and I were on a road trip… and we were talking about athletes who were phenomenal at their peaks. Anyway, I naturally brought up Roy Jones at his peak, and how his decline hurt his standing in history.

After I brought this up, my Dad (who’s more of a casual boxing fan) asked me:

“Who do you think is the best fighter with the worst loss?”

That one stumped me. I went with Tyson-Douglas… and even that was purely from a statistic, betting odds standpoint. But I was not 100% confident. I don’t even think I was 50% confident. At the time of that loss, I’m sure it seemed that way. But afterward, we saw more of Tyson’s decline… so I’m not so sure.

So, I will lay my Dad’s question on you: “Who do you think is the best fighter with the worst loss?” – Gregory

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Photo from The Ring archive

Roberto Duran was way past his prime he took on Thomas Hearns, but he’s a legit all-time great and he was absolutely obliterated in that 1984 junior middleweight showdown. That’s my pick.

A possible runner-up: Hearns was no longer in his prime when he defended his WBC middleweight title against Iran Barkley in 1988 but he was still the hardest puncher in the 160-pound division (and like ole Hands of Stone, a bona-fide ATG), but he was clipped by The Blade. (And just to remind those who write of Tommy’s two-round destruction of Duran as the result of the former lightweight champ being “shot” and/or outsized, the Panamanian legend had enough left to go toe-to-toe with Barkley for 12 rounds and upset the Bronx badass for the WBC strap in early 1989.)

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ‘HOF’ AND ‘ATG’

Hey Dougie,

hope all’s well, I was wondering as to what you thought defined a Hall of Famer against what you thought would define an All Time Great? You’ve previously referred to fighters such as Andre Ward, Canelo, etc as Hall of Famers who would not be considered ATG’s.

Given that modern boxing stars usually only fight 2 times a year at most and the majority of them will finish their careers with 50 fights or fewer, is it possible to be considered a Great on the same level as Robinson and Armstrong, who fought ten times a year, or even as Leonard and Tyson, who fought four or five times a year, in the modern sport?

If so, which modern fighter do you think has the potential to reach ATG status and what would they have to do to achieve this?

Some Mythical Matchups:

Canelo vs Joe Calzaghe (168lbs)

Lennox Lewis vs Tyson Fury

Mayweather vs Lomachenko (135lbs)

Alan Minter vs Randolph Turpin (160lbs)

Thanks. – Josiah

Your Mythical Matchups:

Canelo vs Joe Calzaghe (168lbs)Calzaghe close UD

Lennox Lewis vs Tyson FuryLewis by close UD

Mayweather vs Lomachenko (135lbs)Mayweather by close UD

Alan Minter vs Randolph Turpin (160lbs)Turpin by UD

I was wondering as to what you thought defined a Hall of Famer against what you thought would define an All Time Great? It’s not rocket science, Josiah. Hall of famers are obviously super accomplished fighters who managed to separate themselves from the outstanding peers of their eras. All-time greats accomplished so much that they separate themselves from the hall of famers.  I’ve got three classes of hall of famer, the distinguished long-reigning titleholders, the standouts who defeated at least two hall of famers, and wildly popular sluggers that captured the imagination of their generations. (Some fighters qualify or two or all three classes.)

Examples of the distinguished long-reigning titleholders: Miguel Canto, Victor Galindez, Orlando Canizalez, Jeff Chandler, Myung Woo-Yuh, Khaosi Galaxy, Brian Mitchell and Ricardo Lopez.

Examples of the standouts with at least two victories over fellow HOFers: Luis Rodriguez (Emile Griffith and Curtis Cokes), Mike McCallum (Donald Curry and Julian Jackson), Terry Norris (Sugar Ray Leonard and Curry), and Jeff Fenech (Daniel Zaragoza and Carlos Zarate).

Examples of popular sluggers: Rocky Graziano, Bobby Chacon, Danny Lopez and Matthew Saad Muhammad (who I also identify as distinguished titleholders), Ray Mancini and Arturo Gatti.

Examples of HOFers who qualify for all three of my HOF categories: Aaron Pryor (Antonio Cervantes and Alexis Arguello), Mike Tyson (Holmes and Spinks) and Chiquita Gonzalez (Jung-Koo Chang and Michael Carbajal).

You know who the all-time greats are, the immortals who reside atop Mt. Olympus, right? Robinson, Pep, Armstrong, Charles, Moore, etc. I don’t need to go over their careers. But just to give you some perspective, guys I consider ATGs (that not everybody recognizes) are men who faced SEVERAL fellow HOFers, often in multi-bout series. Former lightweight and 140-pound champ Carlos Ortiz is a favorite of mine. He took on HOFers Joe Brown, Ismael Laguna (three times), Flash Elorde (twice), Nicolino Locche, Sugar Ramos (twice), Duilio Loi (three times) and, in the final bout of his career, Ken Buchanan. He notched wins against all of them except for Buchanan and Locche (who he held to a draw in Buenos Aires).

You’ve previously referred to fighters such as Andre Ward, Canelo, etc as Hall of Famers who would not be considered ATG’s. Canelo’s career may be hold at the present time, but it’s far from over, so who knows with him.

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Leonard only fought once in 1987 but it was a monumental upset over middleweight champ Marvin Hagler.

Given that modern boxing stars usually only fight 2 times a year at most and the majority of them will finish their careers with 50 fights or fewer, is it possible to be considered a Great on the same level as Robinson and Armstrong, who fought ten times a year, or even as Leonard and Tyson, who fought four or five times a year, in the modern sport? Of course, it is. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality – who they fought, when they fought ’em and what transpired in the ring. Leonard only fought 40 pro bouts. In 1980 and 1981, he fought three times a year. From 1982-1991, he only fought seven times – once a year in ’82, ’84, ’87, ’88 and ’91. He was inactive during the years in-between, but he fought Duran twice in ’80, he fought Hearns in ’81, Hagler in’87, Hearns and Duran in ’89, and Norris in ’91. Joe Frazier only fought 37 pro bouts.

From 1969-1976, Smokin’ Joe only fought once or twice per year, but in that time span he took on Bob Foster, Muhammad Ali (three times) and George Foreman (twice).

If so, which modern fighter do you think has the potential to reach ATG status and what would they have to do to achieve this? I think Manny Pacquiao has proven his greatness. Canelo has potential given his accomplishments to date and his age (30). My man, Roman Gonzalez could clinch ATG status in my book if he can notch a rematch victory over Juan Francisco Estrada and gain vengeance in a third bout with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (I admit those are some BIG ASS “ifs”). I’d love to include Lomachenko, Terence Crawford and Errol Spence – because there are several worthy matchups in their current divisions – but unfortunately the promotional/network division and inactivity of this era will most likely prevent them from proving their greatness.

 

DE LA HOYA VS. CANELO AT 154

Hi Dougie,

The De La Hoya who beat Vargas vs Canelo at 154.

Thanks mate. – Will

I think the 2001-2002 Floyd Mayweather Sr.-trained version of De La Hoya had just enough spring left in his legs, enough snap on his busy, world-class jab, enough pop in his dangerous hook, plus a sneaky straight right, to enable him to outjab, outwork and out-maneuver the Mexican star to a close but unanimous decision.

 

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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