Dougie’s Friday mailbag (more Joshua-Wilder anticipation, Gassiev-Dorticos, Ike Ibeabuchi ‘what if?’)

By Doug Fischer

LET JOSHUA-WILDER MARINATE

Yo Dougie,

Hope you and the family are well. Dougie, I am intrigued by the sudden clamor for the Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder fight. Not much has changed, their last defenses were not really anything special, but all of a sudden everyone and their grandmother wants the fight yesterday. Look, don’t get me wrong, AJ showing his infighting skills against a late replacement, and Wilder flattening a former titleholder are nothing to sniff at, but they aren’t exactly world ending events. Like I would have understood people wanting unifications right after the Klitschko fight.

I might get some hate for what I am about to say but I don’t want the fight next. I think it would be a great fight as they are now, and I pick Joshua all day (though that right hand gives me too much anxiety to place a bet), but I think they need to build it up a bit more. AJ could use a U.S. fight and Wilder could use one in the U.K. I want AJ to face “Big Baby” next if Miller is successful against Mariusz Wach, and I want Wilder (though he won’t like it) against Dillian Whyte. I think after those fights, a summer showdown for 3/4 of the heavyweight title would be too monstrous and would be at the best time for both champs. With GGG-Canelo we saw that waiting a year won’t kill us, I’m just suggesting 6 months this time.

MM:

AJ vs Lennox Lewis

Tyson vs Tyson

Wilder vs Foreman (First reign)

Cheers Dougie. – Abed

I’m gonna go with Lewis by mid-to-late TKO, prime Iron Mike over Fury by decision (and not without some difficulty as The Gypsy King’s size, mobility, awkwardness and crazy confidence would have messed with Tyson’s mojo), and Big George by mid-round KO.

Those were good heavyweight mythical matchups! The big boys are a lot fun even when we’re just talking about fantasy fights, so when a REAL heavyweight clash of the titans – which Joshua vs. Wilder appears to be – is on the menu hardcore boxing fans don’t want to wait for it. They want it now!

However, I agree with you. There’s time to build a hardcore dream match into a true global sporting event. And you’re 100 percent correct in that it doesn’t have to take all year to “marinate.” Six months and one interim fight for both heavyweight titleholders is all that is needed – especially if the showdown is to take place in Las Vegas.

If they do it right away, as soon as possible, the fight should take place in the U.K. where it will pack a stadium and be covered by sports and entertainment media the way the SuperBowl is covered here. However, if it’s to happen in the U.S., as many ardent Wilder supporters believe it should, then Joshua needs to make a statement on American soil in order to introduce himself to general U.S. sports fans and step up the anticipation for the Wilder showdown beyond boxing diehards.

Like you, I think a title defense in NYC or Brooklyn against the loquacious Miller is the perfect set-up – every bit as good as Kevin Kelley at Madison Square Garden was for Prince Naseem Hamed’s U.S. debut 20 years ago. And I agree that Wilder-Whyte would make an excellent co-main event, if the two sides could agree on pairing up for a double header (which Wilder’s co-manager Shelly Finkel told RingTV’s Wallace Matthews is a possibility), because of the bad blood between those two as well as the added U.K. coverage/interest Dillian would bring.

Having said that, I’d be cool with Joshua facing WBO beltholder Joseph Parker and Wilder doing a domestic grudgematch with Dominic Breazeale – or Wilder vs. Parker and AJ vs. Kubrat Pulev, or whoever. What’s important is that THE RING’s Nos. 1 and 2 heavyweights share a card in the U.S. and engage with the media and the public before and after their title defenses the way only those two can. If they do that, a summer showdown can generate more than million pay-per-view buys.

If they go straight into the match, I think the PPV would far south of 1 million buys in the U.S. (regardless of what side of the pond it takes place).

WILDER’S GOT SKILL

So, Stiverne wasn’t the best test but…

It took a very long time but I am now convinced at the skill of Wilder. What convinced me was the jab he displayed before considering another shot, then when he had the chance, game over. Does this alter your views on a Joshua v Wilder match up?

Will you be at the Lemieux v Saunders match in Laval? I just got me tickeys and hope to see ya there! – NB

You might see me there, NB. There’s a good chance that I could be part of the international broadcast for that WBO middleweight title bout.

Did Wilder’s blowout of Stiverne alter how I view his inevitable fight with Joshua? Not at all. My opinion on that matchup is unchanged. I’ve always viewed him as a dangerous foe for AJ due to his speed, power, reach, mobility, awkwardness and puncher’s mentality; however, I favor the English star due to his poise, superior foundation, tighter technique, proven ability to fight through adversity and his underrated quickness.

I thought Wilder’s form was sharp and his control of distance was on point against Stiverne, and I truly wish I could read more into the dynamic performance, but I can’t. Stiverne looked like he didn’t care to be in the arena prior to the fight, never mind his desire to be in the ring, which was nonexistent. It’s not Wilder’s fault, but there’s something wrong with Stiverne. I think any legit top-10 heavyweight – including Tony Bellew, who is really a cruiserweight – would have put a beating on Stiverne this past Saturday.

Would they have wiped their asses with the former WBC beltholder the way Wilder did? No, probably not. Wilder is a card-carrying badass. There’s denying that, which is why the boxing world will be on pins and needles when he steps in the ring with Joshua next year.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT TOURNEY

Greetings Dougie,

Thanks for keeping the mailbag going – enjoy reading it during work breaks on Mondays and Fridays.

First off, I am really looking forward to Murat Gassiev-Yunier Dorticos. Honestly, it’s probably one of the best fights that can be made and we are getting a chance to see it. I am favoring Gassiev but I know it could go either way. I think tutelage by Abel Sanchez is an advantage that will come into play. How do you see it going? I heard rumors it could get made in Miami, which would be sick (speaking of which, any chance you’re coming down for Elbiali-Pascal? – I know it’s a crap card but we don’t get many here – it’s not L.A., Vegas or NYC).

Secondly, we need Joshua-Wilder ASAP. I won’t complain if they both get one interim fight with the understanding it’s coming in mid-2018. If Eddie wants to feed Whyte to Wilder first that’s fine, but only with the agreement that Joshua is next. Not sure why Hearn isn’t guaranteeing that. If he’s so confident in Joshua winning and Wilder is easy work, do it next. I am favoring Wilder (I know I’m in the minority). If the fight is competitive, they could already think rematch or trilogy. I really like both Deontay and Joshua. We have two charismatic, marketable, power hitting heavyweights in their prime. Who could F that up? Boxing, of course.

Finally, what’s your take on a mythical LHW tourney if WBSS was able to set it up with this bracket:

1 Adonis Stevenson (WBC) v 8 Eleider Alvarez

2 Sergey Kovalev (WBO) v 7 Sullivan Barrera

3 Artur Beterbiev (IBF) v 6 Badou Jack

4 Dmitry Bivol (WBA) v 5 Oleksandr Gvozdyk

How’d you break this one down? I have Beterbiev coming through but he’s been inactive and other gunners are now on the rise.

All the Best. – Omar, Miami

Wow, I really have no idea who would prevail in that 175-pound tournament, which tells you how deep and competitive the light heavyweight division is at the moment. I’d make Stevenson a slight favorite over Alvarez and favor Kovalev to outpoint Barrera if he’s got his mind right and hasn’t turned the corner due to age and lifestyle. I view Jack as the dark horse of the tournament and I would favor him to upset your man Beterbiev via decision. And, oh man, I really can’t call Biol-Gvozdyk. That’s the most interesting matchup in my opinion. If I have to pick a winner, I’ll go with Bivol on points and he would probably be my favorite to win it all. The fluid, skilled puncher-technician is the youngest, the freshest and arguably the most athletic of the group.

I am really looking forward to Murat Gassiev-Yunier Dorticos. You’re not alone. That’s arguably the best matchup that can be made in the cruiserweight division, in terms of significance and entertainment potential.

I am favoring Gassiev but I know it could go either way. Of course it can! Dorticos is battle tested and he can box and he can PUNCH. We’ll find out if Gassiev can handle a rangy, durable stick-and-move fighter who is also comfortable with duking it out in close.

I think tutelage by Abel Sanchez is an advantage that will come into play. So do I. Ring-cutting tactics, a stiff consistent jab, and creative punch combinations when in close will be essential for Gassiev’s success.

How do you see it going? I think Gassiev will grind Dorticos down to a late stoppage in a very competitive and exciting fight.

I heard rumors it could get made in Miami, which would be sick (speaking of which, any chance you’re coming down for Elbiali-Pascal? – I know it’s a crap card but we don’t get many here – it’s not L.A., Vegas or NYC). I will not be in Miami for the Pascal fight, but I’d consider covering Gassiev-Dorticos if it lands there. I’ve never covered boxing in Miami.

We need Joshua-Wilder ASAP. I know. And so does Eddie Hearn and Shelly Finkel. Maybe even Al Haymon realizes this. I don’t have the wasp up my ass for it happen in March like some hardcore fan nut-cakes, but I definitely want it to happen in 2018 (and I think it will).

I won’t complain if they both get one interim fight with the understanding it’s coming in mid-2018. You shouldn’t complain. Mid-2018 is the perfect time for a heavyweight showdown of that magnitude.

If Eddie wants to feed Whyte to Wilder first that’s fine, but only with the agreement that Joshua is next. I think that’s his plan.

Not sure why Hearn isn’t guaranteeing that. If he did guarantee it would you, or any other neurotic fan, believe him? He’s already begun talks with Haymon and Finkel, and they’ve gone well, according to Finkel. What more do fans want? Let’s allow these people to do their jobs without pestering them every day and fretting about it 24/7.

If he’s so confident in Joshua winning and Wilder is easy work, do it next. He knows Wilder is dangerous, and has said as much on record, but it’s not that simple. If they do it next, where does it land? Is it PPV in the U.S.? Can they make more money if it’s later in the year? They gotta ask these questions and then work it out. He’s got the bona-fide U.K. star and he’s gotta do right by his client and not undervalue him just because Wilder thinks he’s a bigger name than he really is and some angst-ridden hardcore heads are impatient.

I am favoring Wilder (I know I’m in the minority). That’s OK. In fact, that’s good! We need a lot more fans and media to believe Wilder can actually win the fight before it’s made. That’s one of the things that bugged me about the impatience with the Canelo-Golovkin fight last year. Too many fans wanted that fight to happen when almost nobody gave Canelo a chance in hell to win it. I didn’t get why everyone was in a hurry to witness a “mismatch.”

If the fight is competitive, they could already think rematch or trilogy. I’m sure they are.

I really like both Deontay and Joshua. We have two charismatic, marketable, power hitting heavyweights in their prime. Who could F that up? Boxing, of course. Oh stop being so cynical. We’ve had a banner year in boxing and 2018 will probably be even better.

RANDOM QUESTIONS

Quick questions –

What are the prospects and pitfalls for Dana White if he gets into boxing promotion?

If he’d been able to evade his inner demons, what’s your projection for what Ike Ibeabuchi’s career would’ve looked like? Who gives him his first “L”?

What’s the next boxing biopic that *should* be made? What’s the best untold-on-film story?

Thanks again! – Brock

That’s a good question about boxing biopics. There are so many great boxers – some celebrated, some forgotten – who had amazing life stories, but I’d be interested in a well-done film about some of the legendary trainers, such Jack Blackburn, Ray Arcel, Eddie Futch and Emanuel Steward. I think Steward’s enterprising journey from amateur boxer to blue-collar working stiff to amateur trainer to pro guru/icon and his part in making Kronk Gym a worldwide boxing brand could make for a fun flick.

Regarding Ibeabuchi, had the Nigerian nightmare not been bats__t crazy, I beleive he had the combination of size, skill and athleticism to win the undisputed heavyweight championship by the end of 2000. The man who was tough enough to go toe to toe with prime David Tua for 12 rounds and patient enough to hunt down slippery Chris Byrd (and hand both up-and-comers their first losses) was too big and active for Evander Holyfield and too durable and powerful for Lennox Lewis – the titleholders in the late ‘90s – in my opinion. However, Holyfield and Lewis would have taken something out of Ibeabuchi. He wouldn’t come out of those fights with his “invincibility” rep intact. However, I think he would have enough left to make more than a few entertaining title defenses against the likes of Michael Grant, Hasim Rahman, Andrew Golota, Oleg Maskaev and maybe a Tua rematch.

After going through those contenders, I think he’d be ripe for an upset around 2003 or 2004 and I think the emerging Vitali Klitschko had the height, reach, awkwardly effective boxing style and rock-solid chin to take Ibeabuchi into deep waters and drown him.

What are the prospects and pitfalls for Dana White if he gets into boxing promotion? Same as any other company – be it brand new or decades old – its got to be able to sign the right talent, develop that talent, build attractions, keep its entire stable busy (prospects, gatekeeper/fringe contenders, top-10 contenders, titleholders, stars), make the right fights, secure the right TV, venue and sponsorship deals, and so on and so on. Good luck to Mr. White. His “good buddy” Bob Arum has a saying about new boxing promoters that involves “bleached bones in the Nevada desert” but I won’t repeat it here because I don’t want to be cynical (like so many fans seem to be these days).

PORTER’S STYLE IS THE UGLIEST IN BOXING

It is very difficult to watch Shawn Porter’s fights, they are UGLY. It’s his own fault he doesn’t get the recognition he wants, look at that style, he should be embarrassed. He literally tackled this man in the 8th round. Porter fights make me wish for the days of John “the Quietman” Ruiz! He seriously should switch his career to the MMA! I think he would be much more effective and appreciated over there. I’ve never watched MMA and would not but I think he’s in the wrong sport.

Thank you. – Jason C. Brown

I’m a big fan of the Porters (Shawn and his father/trainer Kenny) because they are such gentlemen and positive thinking/acting human beings, but I can’t disagree with you much in regard to the complexion of many of Porter’s fights. He’s just too physical!

I know it works for him. He overwhelmed a crafty, gutsy veteran in Paulie Malignaggi, he outworked a southpaw speedster in Devon Alexander and quick and strong counterpuncher in Adrien Broner, and he was also tough and rugged enough to come close to beating two savvy, mobile boxer-punchers in Kell Brook and Keith Thurman. He’s a handful for any welterweight, including Errol Spence and Terence Crawford, in my opinion. However, I don’t know if I want to see him in with most of the elite welterweights.

Maybe Spence because of the young gun’s power, textbook technique and obvious physical strength. Definitely Lucas Matthysse because of the Argentine’s aggression and busy, power-punching style.

Porter fights make me wish for the days of John “the Quietman” Ruiz! You don’t mean that. Ruiz was Porter with more holding and less athleticism.

He seriously should switch his career to the MMA! I hear there’s a new boxing promoter who might be able to help him make that transition.

WILDER-JOSHUA, FREDDIE ROACH & GSP

Hey Doug,

I know I’ve written you plenty about my appreciation of Wilder but allow me just a little bit more. Taking out a flabby, burnt out Bermane Stiverne is nothing to get excited about, but I think after Joshua’s relative struggle in putting away Takam (granted he won almost every round and Takam was underrated) combined with Wilder’s quick destruction of his latest opponent will cause fans to pause a bit in picking Joshua over Wilder in their inevitable future showdown.

I envision a very tense, cautious and tactical bout between these two. Joshua will go into the fight very weary of Wilder’s lethal right hand and Wilder will likely be quite mobile, making Joshua follow him (of famous past heavyweights he does most closely resemble Foreman, however, he is a follower more than a ring cutter.) The exchanges between the two will be sparse but vicious. Joshua has the much more sound fundamental boxing skills but he is also rather tight and wooden, and his head is often stationary. I could very well see the fight playing out similar to Wilder-Washington with Joshua bagging rounds just off of pumping his jab, then suddenly out of nowhere getting sparked by a Wilder fastball.

Wilder leaves himself open too but he just seems like less “there” to be hit. I also think Joshua packs a real wollup but Wilder has more of that fast twitch lightning in his right hand, a real one hitter quitter!

PS, I am also a big fan of mma and was very happy watching Georges St Pierre come up big Saturday night. Freddie Roach was in his corner that night (his first time cornering an mma fighter) and I couldn’t help but notice Georges’ boxing looked much improved since he last fought four years ago. He used to pretty much just jab and occasionally put the right hand behind it but in this fight he was also moving his head, slipping jabs, and countering with the left hook. It was cool seeing Freddie in the cage with GSP and his team, arm around Georges as he posed with his new belt. – Jack E.

I heard that was an excellent UFC show. I’m pretty sure I’ll never watch a single minute of it, but I appreciate your boxing-angled recap of GSP’s victory. I don’t follow his career or the UFC or MMA in general, but I know he’s put in a lot of work with Roach at Wild Card Boxing Club (and I’m talking about before his hiatus from the sport) and it’s nice to know that his dedication to improving his boxing skills and his trust in Roach paid off the way it did.

By the way, just because I don’t follow MMA doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the athletes of that combat sport. For the record, I do and always have (going back to before Zuffa purchased the UFC).

Anyway, regarding your solid analysis of Joshua-Wilder, I just want to comment that I agree that AJ is like a George Foreman 2.0 but also add that his hands are a lot quicker than I suspect you (and others) realize and this will be a major factor in the inevitable heavyweight showdown.

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

The post Dougie’s Friday mailbag (more Joshua-Wilder anticipation, Gassiev-Dorticos, Ike Ibeabuchi ‘what if?’) appeared first on The Ring.

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