Dougie’s Friday mailbag

By Doug Fischer

BRING BACK THE CROTCH FEINT, KOVALEV!

Hi Dougie,

Thanks for the awesome mailbag. Always enjoy it!

My question is regarding the Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward rematch. Whatever happened to Kovalev’s “crotch feint”? I don’t know exactly when he stopped using it, but I remember a couple of fights where he used it, particularly against Nathan Cleverly, and I wasn’t sure if it was an actual feint or just a sign of pure disrespect.

Doug, do you know what the hell it was all about? Have you ever asked him about it? I think he needs to bring it back for Ward/Kovalev 2. It’s pretty badass! Thanks for all your great work. – Karl

You’re most welcome, Karl. Krusher’s crotch feint is nasty on a few levels, Karl. It can be viewed as a vulgar or disrespectful motion/movement but he was able to use it to momentarily distract or throw off his opponents, thus setting them up for his heavy punches, as this gif of him doing it against future first-ballot hall of famer Bernard Hopkins shows:

GIF: In the ninth round of Hopkins-Kovalev, the “crotch feint” strikes again! @KrusherKovalev @HBOboxing pic.twitter.com/Y2DxXjHGCV

— Main Events (@Main_Events) November 10, 2014

Kovalev is pretty good at using all sorts of feints to set-up his accurate power shots from long- and mid-range. This YouTube video on various feints from MightyFighter.com features Krusher along with future hall of famers Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Against Cleverly, I think he was just being a mean MF. And that’s OK. He’s pretty good at that, too.

By the way, I don’t know if any footage of it is on YouTube, but flamboyant (and very underrated) former IBF featherweight titleholder Jorge Paez was using a far more exaggerated crotch feint during nationally televised fights 20-25 years ago.

I HOPE WARD RETIRES AFTER JUNE 17

Hi Doug,

I might be the only one here, but I am not looking that forward to the 2nd Kovalev-Ward fight, but I will watch it. I hope Kovalev KOs him into tomorrow morning and we can put to rest stinkdom worship.

I think Ward will attempt to hold, post, headbutt and stink his way to a win and all the media will say “wow, what a pound-for-pound great… what a legend.” Paulie Malignaggi might cream his pants. Even if Ward wins, I hope I never see him box again. His style, although effective, is not what I consider boxing. His inside skills are: hold long enough to think that you will get broken up by the ref, let the opponent relax, and then throw a punch and grab again.

I hope Kovalev can neutralize it but I have my doubts. I was hoping he retired for good after that Dan Goossen issue and we could move on. On a side note, is Virgil Hunter possibly the worst trainer ever? He only has one horse, the rest of the guys he trains, I think they get worse (Berto, Khan, Fonfara, El Perro). Thanks. – Alex

I disagree with your take on Hunter. Yeah, he’s got one “elite-level” fighter in Ward, but that’s more than 99.99999999% of the active pro trainers in boxing – and he started Ward off from the scratch. He develop Ward into a complete pro in much the same way that late, great trainers Amilcar Brusa and Bouie Fisher developed Carlos Monzon and Bernard Hopkins into all-time great middleweights.

I don’t think his training methods detracted from Khan’s game. It takes time, sometimes several fights, for a trainer and a new fighter to get on the same page. Khan had some struggles with Hunter in his corner (most notably his close call against Julio Diaz) but he’s also put on boxing clinics against Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander while under the Bay Area trainer’s tutelage. I don’t hold the KO loss to Canelo against Khan or Hunter. That was just a case of a good little man getting caught by a good big man.

I’ve seen Hunter train fighters in his private gym outside of Oakland and he definitely knows the craft. He’s a teacher. However, not everybody had the talent to translate that knowledge into ring success. Still, I’ve seen lesser-known pros, such as Mike Dallas Jr. and Stan Martyniouk, improve with Hunter’s teachings and methods.

But I understand that boxing fans focus on the better-known fighters, such as Berto, Khan, Fonfara, and “El Perro.” Personally, I think he did what he could with all four and I don’t think a different trainer would have gotten more from those fighters. Berto was already past his prime when he came to Hunter, Fonfara was damaged goods and Alfredo Angulo was all but shot. They still had some success with Hunter.

I hope Kovalev KOs (Ward) into tomorrow morning and we can put to rest stinkdom worship. “Stinker worship” is going to plague pro boxing for the foreseeable future regardless of what happens on June 17, but it certainly wouldn’t be bad for the sport if Kovalev lives up to his “Krusher” moniker.

I think Ward will attempt to hold, post, headbutt and stink his way to a win and all the media will say “wow, what a pound-for-pound great… what a legend.” If the fight is even slightly more intense than the first bout, I’ll actually be a bit worried about the heart conditions of Max Kellerman and Jim Lampley. If Ward manages to score a stoppage, I expect one of them to go into a violent epileptic seizure.

Paulie Malignaggi might cream his pants. Gross (but likely).

Even if Ward wins, I hope I never see him box again. Come on, man, don’t say that. He might stick around just to spite you.

His style, although effective, is not what I consider boxing. Then what is it? Is it wrestling, as Kovalev claims?

His inside skills are: hold long enough to think that you will get broken up by the ref, let the opponent relax, and then throw a punch and grab again. OK. I’m certainly not member of the Ward fan club but I think he does a little more than that when in close.

I hope Kovalev can neutralize it but I have my doubts. I’m not Eddie Futch (or Hunter or John David Jackson) but I think rather than try to neutralize the neutralizer on the inside, Kovalev should concentrate on setting the pace and not allowing Ward inside.

REMATCHES

Hey Dougie,

I was happy to hear about the Sor Rungvisai-Gonzalez rematch getting made the other day. Personally, I thought it was a great fight as well as the most egregious high-level robbery I’ve seen since Pacquiao-Bradley in 2012. I also think that Choco Vs. The Monster is THE fight to be made in boxing right now, so I certainly hope Naoya Inoue is featured on the undercard along with the little Mexican badasses (Cuadras and Estrada. Based on their last fights, I’ve gotta favor Estrada.

Jumping to the Ward-Kovalev rematch, I’m favoring Ward to win. I won’t say “again” as I thought more than 5 rounds for Ward couldn’t be justified without being a fan of his. I’m no Ward fan either, but I think he’ll win a fair decision this time around. While Ward by no means “dominated” the second half of the fight, he figured a few things out. One being that Kovalev is the better “outside” fighter, and that Ward can do his best work inside attacking the body. The other thing is that Kovalev has an elite feinting game, which troubled Ward a lot early. I believe he got a better handle of Kovalev’s off-beat timing down the stretch and he will come into the rematch well prepared for those feints. (A bit like how Marquez gradually got better at reading Pacquiao’s feints.)

Kovalev is perfectly capable of making his own adjustments too but I’m not sure about his mind set or training camp going into this one. He’d be smart to listen to JDJ who was demanding more body work in the first outing but it sounds like Kovalev and him aren’t on the same page. I also believe Kovalev is going into this fight legitimately mad and that might backfire against him. He’s already proved he can outbox Ward from outside. He can win an even clearer decision or even get the KO if he sticks to his game plan with the added tweak of more body work. If he goes charging in it might play into Ward’s not-so-heavy hands. – Jack

I don’t think Kovalev is so mad that he’s going to forget who he is and fight a crazy fight. He doesn’t have that kind of hyper-emotional temperament. He’s not Fernando Vargas fighting Oscar De La Hoya. He just doesn’t like Ward and the feeling is mutual.

I don’t buy all this talk of the dissention within Kovalev’s camp. Ward’s camp has done all they can to put that notion out to the media, and to me, that says something about THEIR mindset going into this fight. I’ll let you decide for yourself what all these mind games mean.

But I see a similar fight as the first bout, only with Ward starting out with a little more confidence and (hopefully) aggression and Kovalev keeping his punch output high into the late rounds. These changes should make for a more intense bout, which I see going the distance.

Regarding the Sor Rungvisai-Gonzalez rematch, I hope it lands at StubHub Center. That’s the perfect venue given their take-no-prisoners styles. Inoue is certainly a welcome addition to this show – if his U.S. debut does indeed take place on Sept. 9 (it hasn’t been confirmed by his promoter or K2, has it?) – there’s a lot of American hardcore fan interest in The Monster (especially here in Southern California). However, for this HBO-televised card to sell properly and compete with the Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares rematch that’s slated for Staples Center on the same night it’s going to need the support of the Carlos Cuadras-Juan Estrada fight (which will pull in Mexican fans and media). I also favor Estrada (though only slightly) in that matchup if it’s made.

I’m favoring Ward to win. I respectfully disagree with your opinion.

I won’t say “again” as I thought more than 5 rounds for Ward couldn’t be justified without being a fan of his. I enthusiastically agree with your opinion.

I’m no Ward fan either, but I think he’ll win a fair decision this time around. We’ll see. I really hope the judges get it right.

While Ward by no means “dominated” the second half of the fight, he figured a few things out. Yeah, he figured out how not to get hit with EVERY jab Kovalev threw, how to evade most (but not all) the right hands, and how to rush in and bang the Russian’s body a little bit.

One being that Kovalev is the better “outside” fighter, and that Ward can do his best work inside attacking the body. Ward was able to get in some hard shots to the body while on the inside in about three of the last five or six rounds, but he was not able to put forth a concentrated body attack that drastically effected Kovalev and changed the complexion of the fight. We’ll see if he can get that done in the rematch.

The other thing is that Kovalev has an elite feinting game, which troubled Ward a lot early. Good point… if he brings back the crotch feint, as our good friend Karl requested, Ward could be in a world of s__t.

I believe he got a better handle of Kovalev’s off-beat timing down the stretch and he will come into the rematch well prepared for those feints. That’s great but I think Kovalev is bringing a lot more than feints into this matchup.

(A bit like how Marquez gradually got better at reading Pacquiao’s feints.) Interesting analogy, but keep in mind that it took Marquez until the THIRD fight with Pac to avoid getting dropped, and his FOURTH fight to finally clip the little badass booger. Also keep in mind that Kovalev isn’t Pacquiao – in terms of athleticism or style. The Russian isn’t one to jump in and out of range with fast combos. He methodically stalks his opponents and gradually breaks them down from the outside.

THE MAILBAG & EUBANK JR.

Hi Doug,

First of all, I just want to say that I have been reading your work now since around 1998 going right back to the Maxboxing days (was a member for years still waiting for my T-shirt) but in all this time I have never wrote in to you. I’d always liked boxing and did some amateur stuff when I was younger, but around ‘98/’99 I got well and truly hooked and began watching and reading everything I could get my hands on, whilst trying to get to as many shows as I could. This obsession lasted for around ten years, I’m still a fight fan now but not as dedicated as I was (for various reasons) but in all that time I still read everything you put out diligently, watched the show you used to do with Steve Kim and all the videos, and was pleased for you when you got The Ring gig.

Over the years your easy going style (yet occasional razor sharp and cutting wit, I’ve read many a Dougie Pimp Hand Beat Down) and sense of humour (I’m a veteran of the old Bitch Bags, they used to be brilliant) has entertained me no end. And the past few years I have found myself coming back to you and your well-informed and valuable opinions on the fight game. So, just wanted to pop out of the lurking mists and say hello and thank you for giving this guy in South Wales a lot of enjoyment. Your work is very much appreciated around these parts.

Now that I’ve got the ass kissing out of the way, I did have a question for you. I was listening to a boxing sports radio programme last night and Chris Eubank Jr. came on. He was talking about the upcoming Arthur Abraham fight, and at one point the interviewer asked him if having the famous Eubank surname was a help or a hindrance. Eubank Jr. said it was a massive hindrance because people assume he is manufactured and does not possess his own talent. The interviewer then said “But surely having the genes you have must have helped?” and Eubank Jr. said not at all, all of his ability and talent comes from what he has put in. My question for you is, do you think children of famous boxers have an advantage over their contemporaries? I know many of them fail to reach the heights of their fathers, and for every Laila Ali there is a Marvis Frazier, but do many children of fighters go on to good things? I can understand Eubank Jr. wanting to apportion credit to himself for his achievements and rightly so, but surely having those genes wouldn’t hurt? And at the very least, having a father like that would surely be a huge help as regards to passing on his first-hand knowledge and acquiring contacts in the business? If he truly wants to distance himself from his father taking too much credit for his rise it might be an idea not to have him come out before him in every ring walk I’ve seen him do, and not be right next to him in every interview he does.

Where do you see Chris Eubank Jr going in his career? I love his combination punching and athleticism but something is not quite there for me. I’m not convinced of his punching power and ability to adapt, and let’s be honest he’s yet to prove he can cut it with anyone of real note.

Thanks for reading, keep up the good work Doug. Cheers. – Johnny Dennison, Cardiff, Wales

Thanks for the very flattering praise, Johnny, and thanks for finally writing into the mailbag after all these years (s__t, decades!). Have I really been around since the late ‘90s? Holy crap! I must be having fun because time has flown by.

Anyway, I think Eubank Jr. is a special talent and I believe that he’s got the ability to win at least one major world title at super middleweight (or middleweight if he can get back down to 160 pounds). (Euby’s already won a major belt if you count the IBO 168-pound title he currently holds – but it’s hard to recognize it because he won it by beating the 11-1 Renold Quinlan.)

The showdown with Abraham will let us know more about his ability and potential. If he beats the veteran (as I expect him to), there are some attractive matchups for him at super middleweight vs. the likes of DeGale, Ramirez, Groves, Smith and the Dirrell brothers. We won’t know how good he REALLY is until he matches wits, skill, athleticism and talent with men of that caliber.

But like the young man and I understand where he’s coming from when he says his current place in the sport was earned by his hard work, and is not due to “family genetics.” He’s the one who decided to give boxing a try. He’s the one who dedicated himself to the sport as an amateur, left the familiar confines of Britain and made his way to Las Vegas, where he trained out of the Mayweather Boxing Club. He’s the one who has taken the risks and grinded out the victories in the ring as a pro. It may look like easy to us from outside of the ring, but only he knows how much he gives in there. He’s not going to be aware of any greater-than-average athleticism or special boxing abilities (such as possessing a solid chin like his father) that could be attributed to genetics because he was born like that, and he’s probably more focused on learning the finer points of boxing anyway.

My question for you is, do you think children of famous boxers have an advantage over their contemporaries? Sure they do. Because of the name recognition, they often receive the kind of attention from media and networks that is normally given to Olympians and bona-fide blue-chip prospects. However, the flipside to that attention is the scrutiny that comes from being compared to their famous fathers. All fighters that make it onto to TV (or even high-profile live streams) are going to be subjected to criticism (especially in the social media age), but the children of famous boxers are dragged over the coals when they don’t live up to their namesake.

I know many of them fail to reach the heights of their fathers, and for every Laila Ali there is a Marvis Frazier, but do many children of fighters go on to good things? No, as much as Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is maligned by hardcore fans, what he accomplished as a pro (including winning the WBC middleweight title) is very rare. I could be wrong, but I think the first son of a former champ to win a major world title was when Guty Espadas Jr. won the vacant WBC featherweight title by beating Luisito Espinosa in 2000. His father was a former flyweight titleholder. (Former two-division beltholder Tracy Harris Patterson, the son of hall-of-famer Floyd Patterson, won his first world title in 1992 but he was adopted by the former heavyweight champ.) Anthony Mundine is another son of a former champ who won a major title and was a world-class player for a number of years. Anyway, it doesn’t happen often.

By the way, Frazier was a very good boxer (amateur and pro). He just had the misfortune of locking horns with two hall-of-fame heavyweights – Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson – and he was sparked in one round in both fights, but he beat many solid contenders/prospects during the early 1980s, including future titleholder James “Bonecrusher” Smith (who won the WBA belt 10 months after losing the fight). Marvis was dropped in Round 5 and outpointed Bonecrusher with a broken jaw.

I can understand Eubank Jr. wanting to apportion credit to himself for his achievements and rightly so, but surely having those genes wouldn’t hurt? Not at all, and there’s no doubt that Eubank Jr. was born with uncommon athletic gifts (not unlike Mundine, who was a world-class rugby player before he turned his sights on boxing), but no matter how gifted one is he still must put a lot of hard work and sacrifice in (for years) to succeed at boxing. And it’s this dedication that Eubank Jr. is acutely aware of, not his natural abilities.

And at the very least, having a father like that would surely be a huge help in regards to passing on his first-hand knowledge and acquiring contacts in the business? True, especially if your father was as business-savvy as Eubank Sr. was. Senior was every bit as polarizing to the British public (due to his quirky personality and boxing style) as Floyd Mayweather Jr. was to American fans, and like Floyd, he made it work for him. However, the flipside to that insider guidance is that if your father can be difficult with media and promoters at times (as Eubank Sr. is), that can hinder your career.

If he truly wants to distance himself from his father taking too much credit for his rise it might be an idea not to have him come out before him in every ring walk I’ve seen him do, and not be right next to him in every interview he does. How do you know he wants to “distance himself” from his father? Maybe he just wants credit for what he’s accomplished so far in his pro boxing career.

WINKY WRIGHT

Hi Dougie,

I’m a long time reader of your mail bag, and figured you might get a kick out of this. I was hanging out after work with a couple of coworkers, and one of them says to me, “Look, that’s Winky Wright.” I was in disbelief, but sure enough, it was him in the flesh. I actually had to work up some nerve to go ask him for a picture. I waited until after he ordered from the waitress and went over to his table and said, “Winky, I’m so sorry to bother you, but I’m a big fan of yours and was wondering if I could take a picture with you.” He reached out his hand to shake mine, and said something like ‘sure thing, no problem.’ I told him how I remembered watching the HBO documentary building up to one of his fights when he was doing some road work; he stopped to eat a donut and said “These are so good, they make you want to slap your mamma!” My wife and I cracked up at that. When I was recounting that memory, he was nodding his head with a smirk and knew exactly what I was going to say. I should have complimented him on one of the masterful displays he allowed us fans to witness, but instead I bring up donuts. Well, Dougie, not everyone can be as suave as you under pressure. Anyway, Winky was extremely chill (as if any fan of his would expect otherwise). The first picture my worker snapped of us was washed out and too dark. I told my coworker “forget it, you can still see it’s Winky…I still have proof.” Well, being no stranger to starstruck fans requesting pictures, Winky immediately directed both of us to a different position, away from the sun/window, and my coworker snapped the attached picture. I just wanted to let the rest of the mailbag readers know that Winky Wright is a stand-up guy and every bit as relaxed and likable as he seemed on TV.

I’ll wrap this up by saying that I’m sad that Winky Wright is probably not going to get yours or others’ votes to make it into Canastota. But in his defense, he was not the kind of fighter that big names were eager to face (similar to the Punisher and the Tijuana Tornado). Although he does have wins over Mosley and Trinidad, those wins probably won’t grant him entrance. But nevertheless, cheers to a consummate champion with impenetrable defense that always came to fight. – BK in Clearwater, FL

Good ole Winky! I think that quote you recalled from the HBO program was ‘Countdown to Bernard Hopkins vs. Winky Wright,’ and if memory serves me right, I was one of the “insiders” interviewed for that 30-minute show.

I used to call him “Whiney” Wright because he complained so much about losing that close decision to Fernando Vargas in late 1999. But he always thought he was a hell of fighter. (I first saw him fight as a fan when he stopped Young Dick Tiger at The Forum in 1995. I had read about him in boxing magazines, so I told some of the old-timers at the gym I used to train at – the L.A. Boxing Club – to watch out for him. They were skeptical, but admitted that he was the real deal after watching him against Tiger, so Mr. Wright made me feel like an “expert” way back when… LOL.)

He earned my admiration and respect with his back-to-back victories over Mosley and his total domination of Trinidad. Tito’s in the hall of fame (first-ballot) and Mosley will be (probably first-ballot, too), as will Hopkins. So he’s got the scalps of two HOFers and he faced a third first-ballot inductee. That’s probably enough to make him a border-line HOFer himself. We’ll see. I think he’ll eventually get on the ballot.

From mid-2005 to mid-2006 – from the Trinidad victory to the “draw” with then-middleweight champ Jermain Taylor – I had Wright in my pound-for-pound top three (and even in the top spot for a little while).

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

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