Dougie’s Friday mailbag

By Doug Fischer

‘SUPERFLY’ LANDS AT STUBHUB!

Hi Dougie,

Hope all is well!

Boxing fans rejoice, the great “Superfly” card is at the epic Stubhub

Would love to hear your predictions on the fights. This is truly a great event and huge respect to Tom Loeffler, Peter Nelson and everyone who made this possible.

Also, happy to see Leo Santa Cruz v Abner Mares rematch scheduled for later in the year so we enjoy two great nights. I think Santa Cruz is too rangy and busy for Abner but should be great fight!

Mythical match-ups:

Andre Ward v Dwight Muhammad Qawi

Anthony Joshua v Riddick Bowe

Marco Antonio Barrera v Vasyl Lomachenko

Eric Morales v Vasyl Lomachenko

Thanking you Dougie, keep up the great work! Yours. – Abdul-Qadir Ali, Ireland

Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm, Mr. Ali, as always.

I’ll start with your mythical matchups:

Andre Ward v Dwight Muhammad Qawi – The Camden Buzzsaw by a punishing late stoppage

Anthony Joshua v Riddick Bowe – The Big Daddy by mid-to-late KO in a good give-and-take heavyweight bout which begins as a careful boxing match but gradually escalates into a shootout

Marco Antonio Barrera v Vasyl Lomachenko – The Baby-Faced Assassin by close but unanimous decision in a brilliant high-speed chess match at 126 pounds; Loma by close, maybe majority or split nod in a more physical boxing clash at 130 pounds

Eric Morales v Vasyl Lomachenko – The Matrix by close but unanimous decision in hard-fought tussle at 126 pounds; Loma by controversial, perhaps majority or split, decision at 130 pounds (in a Fight-of-the-Year candidate)

Boxing fans rejoice, the great “Superfly” card is at the epic Stubhub

As much as boxing gets it wrong, the ultimate truth is that this chaotic sport gets it right often enough to keep us hardcore whack jobs coming back year after year (decade after decade). The Sept. 9 HBO tripleheader that focuses on the often overlooked but incredibly deep and talented 115-pound division is a prime example of the sport getting it right.

The three co-main events – Srisaket Sor Rungvisai-Roman Gonzalez II, Carlos Cuadras-Juan Estrada and Naoya Inoue-Antonio Nieves – feature THE RING’s top five-rated junior bantamweights. The card landed at the most appropriate venue for such a diehard delight – The StubHub Center in Carson, California – and the ticket prices are affordable (as they usually are at the 8,000-seat outdoor tennis stadium, especially when K2 Promotions is involved). I’m very pleased that the talked about Santa Cruz-Mares rematch wasn’t scheduled on the same day, and I couldn’t be happier that the tripleheader didn’t wind up in Las Vegas or at a larger arena (such as The Forum or The Honda Center). I expect StubHub to be filled to capacity or close to it on Sept. 9, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the little big men of boxing will give those fans (and those watching on TV) a show.

Would love to hear your predictions on the fights. For the time being (yes, I reserve the right to change my opinion as this card gets closer) I favor Gonzalez and Estrada by close hard-fought decision and Inoue by late TKO.

This is truly a great event and huge respect to Tom Loeffler, Peter Nelson and everyone who made this possible. Loeffler and Nelson make a very good team, don’t they? I wish them continued success, but I gotta give a shout out to the other promoters that were part of the deal (hey, a lot of these organizations get overlooked or ignored in the U.S./English boxing media):

Sor Rungvisai’s Nakornloung Promotions, Estrada’s Zanfer Promotions, Inoue’s Ohashi Promotions, and the mighty Teiken Promotions (which co-promotes Gonzalez and Cuadras – and does get a little bit of love from American boxing writers). I should also mention Nieves’ promoter Dmitriy Salita. “The Monster” was in need of an opponent for his U.S./HBO debut and they stepped up to the plate.

Counting K2 Promotions, that’s SIX promotional companies coming together to give hardcore heads like you and I what we want. That, my friend, is the boxing business at its best. (I know I’m preaching to the converted but the good things in boxing need to be acknowledged as much as the all the bad s__t.)

Also, happy to see Leo Santa Cruz v Abner Mares rematch scheduled for later in the year so we enjoy two great nights. Southern California boxing fans, who are already treated to an abundance of club shows, are being spoiled with a summer/fall schedule that includes the July 15 tripleheader at The Forum, the Lomachenko-Marriaga fight (which is supposed to land in L.A. on Aug. 5), Cotto-Kamegai at StubHub on Aug. 26, “Superfly,” and now Santa Cruz-Mares II at Staples Center (which will probably have a few choice bouts on its undercard).

I think Santa Cruz is too rangy and busy for Abner but should be great fight! I agree.

LATE THOUGHTS ON PAC-HORN

Hi Dougie,

Being a musician, I got in late Saturday and missed the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn fight. I was glad to see that ESPN has joined HBO and Showtime and re-ran the fight on Sunday. They have enough channels, and can postpone their bowling shows.

I read all the coverage before watching, and expected to see a real miscarriage. It was far from the case, in my opinion. The 117-111 score was ridiculous, but not so the two 115-113 scores. Watching the less than great TV feed, I actually had it 114-114, with a couple of really close rounds that could have gone either way.

Looking at the fighters after the bout, Horn was a bloody mess, and Pacquiao’s cuts were the results of head butts. Horn didn’t look like a winner.

Manny needs to hang it up. Does he need the rematch first, to go out a winner? Would he win the rematch?

I’m not certain. As a longtime Pacman fan, it was a sad display of fading skills, but it wasn’t the robbery of Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward I or Marvin Hagler-Sugar Ray Leonard.

Thanks for all the fine work and making Mondays and Fridays special. – Ken Kozberg, Oakham, MA

Thanks for the kind words for the mailbag, Ken.

There are more than a few observers who believe that there was nothing suspect about the scorecards for Kovalev-Ward I (I’m not among them) or Hagler-Leonard (I thought only one score, the 118-110 tally turned in by Jose Juan “(My Card is a) Joke-Joke” Guerra, was criminal).

Photo by Jono Searle/Bradley Kanaris Photography

I think I’m in the minority with this opinion, but I wasn’t put off or saddened by Pacquiao’s performance against Horn. I didn’t consider Horn to be a complete ham-n-egger coming into the bout and I’ve witnessed (and noted) Pacquiao’s gradual slide since 2011, so I wasn’t suddenly expecting vintage Pac-Monster form once the bell rang in Brisbane. So what I saw on July 1 was a 22-year veteran hold off a strong, determined and crazy tough young challenger with an awkward/mauling style, and land enough clean shots over 12 tough rounds to win seven or eight rounds. It wasn’t a bad performance for a 38-year-old fighter with almost 70 pro bouts under his belt, especially considering PacMan’s offensive style (most frenetic fighters are burnt out by their early 30s).

Do I think Pacquiao should hang ‘em up? Yeah, I’ve been ready for him to go for three or four years now. But do I think he’s completely finished? Nah. He’s no longer a world-beater, or even a top-five welterweight contender, but he can still compete against good, solid professionals and he can still make for quality fights if wants to challenge himself (and risk his health). So if Manny wants to stick around, I won’t root for him, but I won’t be mad at him either.

I read all the coverage before watching, and expected to see a real miscarriage. The boxing media can get a bit carried away, can’t we? Let’s all blame Teddy Atlas and CompuBox for the overreaction.

It was far from the case, in my opinion. The 117-111 score was ridiculous, but not so the two 115-113 scores. Agreed, although I still think scoring seven rounds for Horn is giving him the benefit of the doubt in all the close rounds.

Watching the less than great TV feed, I actually had it 114-114, with a couple of really close rounds that could have gone either way. That’s fair. At least the champ gets to keep his belt with a draw result.

Looking at the fighters after the bout, Horn was a bloody mess, and Pacquiao’s cuts were the results of head butts. Horn didn’t look like a winner. Yeah, but going by that criteria the great Joe Frazier would have lost every one of his fights that went the distance (of which there were only seven in case you were wondering).

Manny needs to hang it up. Agreed, but it’s gotta be hard to walk away from guaranteed eight-figure paydays.

Does he need the rematch first, to go out a winner? I don’t think so.

Would he win the rematch? It’s not a given.

CALLUM SMITH AND THE SUPER SERIES

Hi Doug,

Hope you’re well. I’ve watched a couple of the Coach Schwartz segments lately, really good stuff.

Quick question, what happened to the Callum Smith-Anthony Dirrell fight? As far as I knew they were fighting in September and now he has been announced in the World Boxing Super Series. What did I miss, and why did his title shot fall apart?

On the subject of Smith, do you think all the time he has been treading water waiting for the world title fight has harmed his progress? I don’t think he has stepped up in class quite enough in the last 18 months to be thrown in against some of the better super middleweight champions. I think he should have upped the level of his opposition. It seems a big jump from Hungarian no hopers to say a George Groves or a James DeGale. He also seems a bit one dimensional but that may be the opposition. Best regards. – Steffan, London

Well, for starters, the only super middleweight “champ” that Smith may have to compete against, so far, in the World Boxing Super Series is Groves, the newly crowned WBA beltholder. The other participants, as of Thursday, are: Germany’s 38-year-old former light heavyweight titleholder Juergen Braehmer, Swedish light heavyweight fringe contender Erik Skoglund, unbeaten but untested British super middleweight Jamie Cox, WBC-rated Turkish slugger Avni Yildirim and undefeated American middleweight prospect Rob Brant. Apart from Groves, that ain’t exactly murderer’s row, Steffan. We’re not talking about Roy Jones Jr., Joe Calzaghe, James Toney, Nigel Been, Chris Eubank, Steve Collins and Frankie Liles, are we?

Callum Smith (right) tags Hadillah Mohoumadi on April 2, 2016. Photo: Courtesy of Matchroom Boxing

There’s one more spot to be taken in the eight-man field and that fighter is supposed to be announced today. I guess it could be DeGale (which would be great for the tournament), but according to the World Boxing Super Series Twitter account it will be the winner of the July 15 Chris Eubank Jr.-Arthur Abraham showdown (which is also a good acquisition). Regardless of who the eighth man is, I think Smith is ready for the likes of “Chunky,” Euby Junior, “Ancient Abe” and Groves.

The sharp-shooting 6-foot-3 boxer-puncher had a very good amateur career, he’s been well schooled and developed, he’s mostly dominated at the British and European level, so I think it’s time to see if he can succeed against world-class opposition. He looks ready to my eyes.

What happened to the Smith-Dirrell fight? It’s been scrapped. I guess Smith’s team and promoter (Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing) believe there’s more to gain from the WBSS than the WBC title shot against Dirrell. It looks like Dirrell will now be matched against young (only 20) and hard-hitting David Benavidez for the vacant belt, according to BoxingScene.com. That’s a good fight.

As far as I knew they were fighting in September and now he has been announced in the World Boxing Super Series. What did I miss, and why did his title shot fall apart? As far as I know, here’s what happened: TGB Promotions won the purse bid for the vacant WBC strap on behalf of the PBC (which Dirrell belongs to) in March and few months later scheduled a showdown with Smith in Los Angeles on Sept. 9. Team Smith and Hearn agreed to this time and place, but in recent weeks Team Dirrell tried to move the title bout from L.A. to Dirrell’s hometown of Flint, Michigan (on Sept. 8). Hearn wasn’t too thrilled with this idea (and we can’t blame him given the atrociously biased scorecards we witnessed with IBF lightweight beltholder Robert Easter Jr.’s recent hometown title defense against visiting challenger Denis Shafikov). I think Eddie and Team Smith saw more potential exposure and opportunity – as well as a more even playing field – with the WBSS.

On the subject of Smith, do you think all the time he has been treading water waiting for the world title fight has harmed his progress? Not at all. He fought four times last year – admittedly, it wasn’t against world beaters but it was solid opposition – and he’s gone the 12-round distance twice. I think not having fought this year so far, could impact his performance but I don’t think he’s going to have to face one of the better fighters in the first round of the tournament.

I don’t think he has stepped up in class quite enough in the last 18 months to be thrown in against some of the better super middleweight champions. I think you can say the same thing about Skoglund, Cox, Yildirim, and especially Brant, who is a natural 160 pounder and has only fought the 10-round distance once (a razor-thin majority decision over unheralded Louis Rose).

AMERICAN BOXING FANS

What’s up Dougie,

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears that most boxers from other countries receive full support from their respective country (no matter their boxing style). However a large segment of American boxing fans seem to dislike or barely support our own homegrown boxers.

In fact, you might be able to make the case that many, if not most, American boxing fans support boxers from other countries. I just wanted to get your thoughts and theory as to why that appears to be the case. Thanks and keep up the good work. – Leron

I don’t think American boxing fans dislike American boxers. They just won’t idolize them unless they’re super special. What else can I say? This is the country that spawned boxing icons such as Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Ray Robinson, Willie Pep, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, three of the Four Kings and Mike Tyson. The bar for boxing achievement (and stardom) has been set very high for U.S. boxers. America has kicked ass in professional boxing for more than 100 years. We’ve lost count of the number of American world titleholders; more than half of the fighters enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame are American.

It’s not that big of a deal when an American wins a world title. It’s been done before. It’s expected. When a standout boxer emerges from a nation that hasn’t produced a dozen Olympic boxing gold medalists or 50 world titleholders, the people of that nation are going to take notice if he or she wins a world amateur title or an Olympic medal. Hell, a standout amateur boxer will practically be national hero in his or her homeland. If that same boxer can go on to win a professional title and make a name for himself or herself in America, their people who live in the U.S. are generally going to get behind them (sometimes fanatically so), and if they keep winning (and they dominate or look amazing) they’re eventually going to attract the attention of hardcore American fans – in part, because they’re different from what we’ve seen; they’re exotic.

British fans are generally more loyal to their boxers than U.S. fans, but they aren’t that

Jorge Linares (R) won a hard-fought unanimous decision over Anthony Crolla to earn THE RING’s 135-pound title last September in Crolla’s hometown of Manchester, England.

different from Americans in that they will also root for foreign fighters that are really good (or have the balls to travel to the U.K. for significant fights). Why is this? Because, like the U.S., the U.K. has a long and storied tradition in boxing (heck, the sport started there) and a long line of standout fighters. The British scene is especially hot now, so they can afford to root for “others.” British fans lost their minds when Tyson fought Julius Francis in Manchester back in 2000. And just recently, they welcomed Jorge Linares and Errol Spence Jr. to world title bouts on U.K. soil and even though their native sons lost they had nothing but respect for the marvelously talented visitors.

Show me a country that’s produced several respected world champs over the decades (more than 30), where boxing is a popular sport or remains a staple of certain networks, and I’ll bet you there are fans from that nation that have a lot of love for foreign-born fighters.

As prideful as Mexican fans are about their boxers, they’ve been known to adopt fighters from other nations – from Cuban transplants Sugar Ramos and Jose Napoles, to Panama-born (but half-Mexican) Roberto Duran (who was also adopted by the rest of Latin America), to everybody’s favorite Kazakh Gennady Golovkin.

And as sheltered and homogenous as Japan’s boxing scene has been in the past, the lighter-weight fighters that have traveled there from Mexico, Central America and South America to challenge for or defend world titles over the decades have, for the most part, been well received. (Mexican fighters, due to their nation’s rich history in the lighter weight classes and because of the fierce rivalry with Japanese standouts, carry an extra mystique with them when they fight in Japan.) And we’ve even seen Japan adopt a few foreign-born fighters, most notably Linares, Roman Gonzalez and (does anyone remember) Russian-born former WBC flyweight titleholder Yuri Arbachakov.

HORN VS. MARQUEZ

Juan Manuel Marquez would have his way with Jeff Horn. No problem. I would love to see Horn go at JMM like he did PacMan. – Ceylon

Juan Manuel Marquez trades leather with Mike Alvarado. Photo / Naoki Fukuda

I would too! And as great as Marquez is, I don’t think he would have his way with the young man. On top of being in his 40s and having more than 60 pro bouts under his belt, Marquez hasn’t fought since 2014 when he went 10 rounds with battleworn Mike Alvarado, who managed to drop the Mexican master technician. JMM weighed in at 141¾ pounds for that fight (“Mile High,” who made his name at 140 pounds, weighed in at 143¼).

Horn may not have Alvarado’s rangy frame, but he’s a natural welterweight – he’s never weighed in under 146 pounds (and he appears to re-hydrate to the size of a healthy junior middleweight). Horn is strong, awkward and much fresher than Alvarado was. Plus, he’s going to carry supreme confidence into the ring after scoring that huge upset over Pacquiao.

I know Marquez would likely have a tune-up bout before taking on Horn, but given his recent inactivity, age and size, I wouldn’t count out Australia’s new star.

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

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