Dougie’s Friday mailbag

By Doug Fischer

NERY’S SURPRISING UPSET OF YAMANAKA

Hi Dougie,

Watched the Luis Nery vs Shinsuke Yamanaka fight on TV Azteca (which showed it live in Mexico), didn’t expect Luis to pull out the upset, considering he travelled to Japan to try and upset the champ. Some people we know in TJ that were close to the Nery camp told us that he wanted that fight specifically. Somebody told him that he could fight against one of the other titleholders and he said he wanted Yamanaka, he wanted to beat the champ in his home town.

To me, he really thought that this was a better chance of getting a win over a recognized champ, he knew the guy is 34 years old and that he could probably try to get him by pressuring him and putting him in a rough situation. He did, so props to him. I honestly thought he wasn’t going to be able to pull it off, he’s still very young and inexperienced and knew about Yamanaka’s talents.

In the end, age beats us all, specially at the lighter weight classes; that’s why you can’t dismiss a guy against anybody at the lower weights, you never know when you’re going to get old. That also got me thinking on the Chocolatito rematch. He might be getting old and we might see a much older Roman Gonzalez for his rematch. What do you think?

By the way, excellent work by Montero Monday. Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde

Michael Montero did a great job with Monday’s mailbag. I would have had him do this week’s Friday column (as I’m still on vacation at Catalina Island as I write this) but he had his own out-of-town business to attend to this weekend. Anyway, I think I found my regular mailbag substitute with the big guy.

Regarding age and sub-featherweight divisions (122 on down to 105 pounds), you’re absolutely right. Most fighters in the straw, fly and bantam weight classes are past their primes by age 30 and most are clearly faded by their mid-30s.

Could Chocolatito be a bit faded? Yes, absolutely. I think he’s definitely past his prime. However, I don’t think his age or career wear and tear will be much of a factor in his rematch with Sor Rungvisai because Wisaksil Wangek is the same age (30) and he’s got about the same number of bouts (48, while my man Roman has 47). Both junior bantams have been in their share of ring battles (and Wangek ain’t trying to be Pernell Whitaker in that ring – that tough Thai badass has taken a lot of punches over the years).

Photo / Naoki Fukuda

Hey, how about that Luis Nery! I told people that he was a darkhorse. Although their boxing styles are different, I looked at Nery the way I viewed Miguel Berchelt going into the Francisco Vargas fight in January – a mainly unknown (outside of Mexico) but also very dangerous young contender. Congrats to him for dethroning the longest-reigning active bantamweight champ. Yamanaka is 34 but he’s still a dangerous striker. Nery was able to defend well on the outside, repeatedly bomb Yamanaka (who always holds his jab hand low) with his overhand left from mid-distance, and get off with both hands whenever he was in close. He wisely smothered Yamanaka when he had the veteran hurt and reeling in the fourth round.

Some people we know in TJ that were close to the Nery camp told us that he wanted that fight specifically. Respect to Nery for wanting to face the most experienced and formidable of the 118-pound beltholders.

Somebody told him that he could fight against one of the other titleholders and he said he wanted Yamanaka, he wanted to beat the champ in his home town. It looks like Nery and his team foresaw that his style could be kryptonite for the Japanese veteran, and, indeed, the 22-year-old Tijuana native was ready to nail Yamanaka every time his fellow southpaw dropped his right hand. My guess is that they figured that all Nery had to do was avoid Yama’s powerful straight left while on the outside (which he was able to do) and avoid getting too sloppy during exchanges (which the young challenger was also able to do). Nery was cagey from a distance and fearless in close. It was a bad combination for the aging WBC/RING champ.

CONGRATULATIONS

Mr. Fischer,

Congratulations to your 20th anniversary. I celebrated with my wife the 25th this year – what a party. Enjoy your holidays and the coming years with your wife. Although Montero is doing a very good job as a substitute I’m looking forward reading your insights and always interesting views especially in the making of the triple header and the GGG-Canelo clash. This time I will not attend in Vegas because I think the admission price is far over the top. But I will enjoy the ppv with the American part of our family in Texas. – Matthias

I’m positive that you’ll enjoy the show even though you’ll be watching it on TV. I’m gonna be in Vegas and I have no doubt that I’m gonna have a blast all week, but especially on Sept. 16. I can’t wait. Thanks for the kid words, Matthias. My wife and I had a wonderful time on Catalina Island. I can’t believe it took me this long to check it out. We’ll definitely be back next year, and we’ll take our kids along next time.

Montero was the perfect choice as a sub for the mailbag column, and to be honest, there isn’t much more I’d add to any of his responses. But I read Monday’s column and saw your questions, so I can answer them in today’s bag:

Has there ever been a better card than the three world-class match ups at StubHub on 9/09? I think so, but I admit that I’m hard pressed to name one in recent years off the top of my head.

Do you recall a better card? You know, maybe I’m showing my age, but when I think about

CIRCA 1990: Julio Cesar Chavez poses with the RING belt. (Photo by THE RING)

stacked boxing cards, my mind automatically goes back to all those Don King PPV shows headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez during the mid-90s when his cash cow Mike Tyson was behind bars. King knew he had to really give boxing fans bang for their buck if they were going to dig into their pockets for a non-Tyson PPV, his Royal Hairness knew how to deliver.

In 1993, the attendance record-breaking card topped by Chavez vs. Greg Haugen in Mexico City was supported by Terry Norris-Maurice Blocker (a 154-pound titleholder vs. a 147-pound beltholder) and Azumah Nelson-Gabriel Ruelas (a great 130-pound champ vs. a tough and talented top contender); and a few months later Chavez’s 140-pound title defense against Terrence Alli (the No. 1 contender in all three major sanctioning organizations) featured the Lennox Lewis-Tony Tucker heavyweight showdown and the mouth-watering middleweight puncher clash between Julian Jackson and Gerald McClellan. (I vividly remember watching this PPV show at a friend of a friend of a college acquaintance’s apartment during my journalism master’s program at Columbia University – and I made the somewhat uncomfortable trek to the Alphabet City section of the East Village just to see Jackson-McClellan live).

In ’94, hardcore heads were treated to the now famous “Revenge: The Rematches” card that featured Chavez-Frankie Randall II, Nelson-Jesse James Leija II, McClellan-Jackson II and Norris-Simon Brown II; and the long-awaited Chavez-Meldrick Taylor rematch which was supported by Ruelas-Leija II, Felix Trinidad-Yory Boy Campas (a 23-0 welterweight boxer-puncher from Puerto Rico vs. a 56-0 slugger-puncher from Mexico with the IBF belt on the line) and Randall-Juan Martin Coggi; AND the Chavez-Tony Lopez card from Monterrey, Mexico, which featured Trinidad (24-0) vs. Oba Carr (32-0) and Jorge Castro vs. John David Jackson (a bloody and dramatic middleweight clash that wound up being THE RING’s Fight of the Year).

I know Canelo Alvarez is more of a counter-puncher, but I think since Lemieux couldn’t hurt GGG, why do people think Canelo can? It’s real simple: Lemmy may be a harder, more natural middleweight puncher than Canelo, but the Mexican star possesses superior punching technique and timing, which can result in more effective power punches. Canelo also has a better jab in which to set up his heavy but crisp counter punches and body-head combinations.

Do you think GGG can win on the scorecards if it is not a complete shut out? I’m picking him to win by close decision in a competitive fight, so obviously I do.

LUIS NERY

Dear Mr Fischer,

How big of an upset is Luis Nery’s fourth round TKO of Shinsuke Yamanaka? I only tuned in because the intrepid Michael Montero (shout out for his great guest-stint) mentioned it on his YouTube channel. I can’t say I saw the same fourth round as Yamanaka’s corner, but I trust they know their fighter much better than I ever will. The Spanish language broadcaster’s constantly calling Nery “El Panterito” made the fight even better.

Before the fight, I thought Nery was a live dog, but that his quality of opposition would be his undoing. Yamanaka has looked vulnerable to me since I started watching him, but he has one of the best equalizers in the sport. I know detractors will say that Yamanaka has fought only in Japan, but his straight left could floor any bantamweight I’ve ever seen (plus, Nery had only ever fought in Mexico, to my knowledge).

When Nery hit the champion with that tight right hook with just under a minute left in the first round, I figured we could have a great fight, but I did not expect the Tijuaneo to follow it up with so many accurate power shots. That was the difference in the fight to my eye: El Pantero landing his biggest punches and avoiding Yamanaka’s. As the fight went on, Nery did an excellent job of putting combinations together.

Rounds two through four were a gradual beatdown. I thought Yamanaka was able to land his left to the body well, but he couldn’t quite connect with it upstairs. And Nery countered him well throughout the fight. I think it is telling that both fighters spent so much time measuring distance, maybe Nery has some real power too. Were you able to watch the fight? What do you think of Nery’s chances against the rest of the top Bantamweights? I would love to see him in against Zhanat Zhakiyanov or Zolani Tete.

I hope you had a wonderful anniversary, and that you and your family are well. I send all the very best. Respectfully. – John

Thanks for the kind wishes, John.

I watched Yamanaka-Nery on YouTube the other day and I was impressed with the young (and still green) challenger’s performance. He’s going to be a handful for any world-class bantamweight, including the WBA titleholder and the South African veteran. However, I wouldn’t count Double Z or Z.T. out against Nery, who lacks a jab and doesn’t throw many (if any) straight punches. His cagey aggression and well-timed hook-cross combos worked well against boxing striker like Yama, who stands straight up and needs to get off from a distance, but that style may not be as effective against a mauling pressure fighter like Double Z or a versatile boxer-puncher like Tete. But hey, this is why they fight the fights. I wanna see what happens.

How big of an upset is Luis Nery’s fourth round TKO of Shinsuke Yamanaka? It wasn’t totally unexpected given the number of times Yama has been floored in recent bouts, but it was still a pretty major upset. Nery is only 22 and, as you noted, he hadn’t faced any world-beaters; while Yamanaka had reigned for more than five and half years, and had defended his WBC title 12 times, including two victories over a top-rated (formerly elite) Anselmo Moreno and still-dangerous Vic Darchinyan. At least half of Yama’s title defenses came against RING-rated bantamweights, which included the solid likes of Malcolm Tunacao, Liborio Solis and Alberto Guevara.

I only tuned in because the intrepid Michael Montero (shout out for his great guest-stint) mentioned it on his YouTube channel. Michael knows his s__t.

Photo / Naoki Fukuda

I can’t say I saw the same fourth round as Yamanaka’s corner, but I trust they know their fighter much better than I ever will. Yama was being battered, wasn’t able to fight out of it, and was quickly on his way to being overwhelmed. I think his corner did the right thing. Having said that, I thought the 34-year-old southpaw looked fairly sharp and had his moments in Rounds 1 and 3.

I know detractors will say that Yamanaka has fought only in Japan, but his straight left could floor any bantamweight I’ve ever seen (plus, Nery had only ever fought in Mexico, to my knowledge). I agree. I wonder if the same fans that detract from Yama’s legacy for not fighting outside of Japan also throw shade on Floyd Mayweather’s or Andre Ward’s or Keith Thurman’s pro resumes for not fighting outside of the U.S.

DESERT STORM

Might be a little late on this topic but I gotta say glad Tim Bradley retired on a high note. Sad to see him go though. True ambassador to the sport. Guy was as tough as they come, seemed honest and candid, and really showed a lot of dignity in and out of the ring. Can’t think of a more underrated boxer.

Looking back at his resume I don’t see why he shouldn’t be included in HOF. If Arturo Gatti deserved a place Tim Bradley deserves two. You agree? – g

Bradley will get my vote, maybe not first-ballot but eventually. He passes my bottom-line hall-of-fame criteria, which is to have good showings against two fighters who are (or will be enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame), and he’s done that against Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. Yes, his split not over PacMac was controversial, but he did compete, and the split decision over JMM was more than fair in my opinion. Losing two subsequent bouts to Pacquiao doesn’t hurt his legacy in my view, as he was competitive (at least in spots) in both fights (I just think Manny had his number – no shame in that). Helping his case is that he was one-half of a Fight of the Year vs. Ruslan Provodnikov, and apart from Manny and Juan Manuel, he faced 10 men who held world titles, including Provo, a then-undefeated Lamont Peterson, a dangerous Kendall Holt (in a partial unification bout), a difficult Junior Witter and a then undefeated Devon Alexander (in another partial 140-pound unification bout).

BOXING’S LARGER THAN LIFE PERSONALITIES

Hi Dougie!

I know from reading your mailbags that James Toney, Chris Eubank (Sr) and Nigel Benn are three of your favourite boxers and I thought you would enjoy this little known but hilarious footage of the time the three of them had a little “altercation” on British TV back in the day. Basically Toney goes off on one of his famous rants and Eubank’s reaction is just, well, classic Eubank! I won’t say any more but it’s every bit as entertaining as you’d expect! Here it is – (Unseen) James Toney Argues With Chris Eubank & Nigel Benn

It got me thinking though; boxing must have produced more larger than life personalities than any other sport – from one of a kind eccentrics and flamboyant entertainers to controversial bad boys and the wittiest of trash talkers. It’s one of the things that attracted me to boxing in the first place. I gather you feel the same so who are your favourite boxing characters/personalities? Cheers. – Mark from England

Thanks for sharing that clip of Toney going all Toney on poor Nigel and Euby. James did, thankfully, mellow out a little bit with age (and weight). And, yes, I’ve seen this footage before. I’m kind of a hardcore when it comes to this boxing thing.

My favorite boxing characters/personalities? Well, obviously, my No. 1 choice has to be the man who first attracted me and introduced me to this wild and whacky corner of professional sports – Muhammad Ali. He wasn’t just bigger than boxing during his second heavyweight title reign in the 1970s, he was bigger than sports. His ringside and in-studio interviews (especially those with Howard Cosell) before and after his fights were must-see TV. Ali was a born entertainer.

However, after Ali, my favorite boxers were more understated outside of the ring, they saved their flare and fire for when they were inside the ropes. I am, of course, talking about Sugar Ray Leonard and Terry Norris.

But I always appreciated the flashy, mouthy but talented showmen that weren’t afraid to ruffle feathers outside of the ropes, such as Eubank Sr., Hector Camacho Sr., Prince Naseem Hamed and even the 130-pound version of Floyd Mayweather Jr. (I don’t mind trash talkers as long as they actually fight the guys they trash – so you can add Antonio Tarver to this list because he called out Roy Jones when RJJ was supposedly the G.O.A.T, and delivered when he got in the ring with No. 1 P4P player).

As I got older, I appreciated the surly bastards who were also masters of the ring, mean-but-courageous men like Roberto Duran, Toney and Erik Morales. I didn’t like them at first – I was threatened by Hands of Stone because he beat SRL, thought Lights Out was too much of a thug, and was an unabashed Marco Antonio Barrera fan so I had to hate El Terrible for a while – but they all grew on me as they stacked unforgettable ring performances. (You can add Bernard Hopkins to this list, too, although I always liked him.)

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

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