Dougie’s Monday mailbag

By Doug Fischer

LINARES VS. LOMACHENKO/MIKEY GARCIA

Hey Doug,

Jorge Linares put on a boxing masterclass in his rematch with Anthony Crolla on Saturday. In some ways, Linares is similar to Amir Khan; blazing hand speed, nice combinations, good lateral movement and a shaky chin. (Although Linares seems a little more defensively responsible and has a better uppercut and body attack I think.)

What do you think of his chances against Vasyl Lomachenko or Mikey Garcia? Those two both have cults of boxing nerds worshiping them but I have a feeling the much-lesser appreciated Linares could compete well with either of them. Garcia may pose some problems with his powerful counter punching but I also think Linares could beat him in similar fashion to how Keith Thurman beat Danny Garcia.

As for Loma, he schooled the quick-pawed Gary Russel Jr. but Linares is far more seasoned, as well as more mobile. Would you favor Linares over Loma? – Jack

It’s hard to say, Jack, given the fact that Lomachenko hasn’t been fighting at 130 pounds for a full year and has yet to face a legit 135-pound contender. However, his undeniable talent and boxing ability, plus his legendary body of work in the amateurs, leads me to believe that he could come up with the right combination of ring tactics to dethrone Linares. I think it would be a competitive and compelling matchup that would involve enough intensity and exchanges to satisfy the blood-thirsty ghouls, and so much boxing finesse that “the purists” would cream their collective shorts. Right now, I slightly favor Linares because he’s a seasoned veteran (as you noted) and the proven lightweight champ.

Those two (Loma and Mikey Garcia) both have cults of boxing nerds worshiping them but I have a feeling the much-lesser appreciated Linares could compete well with either of them. I have that same feeling.

Garcia may pose some problems with his powerful counter punching but I also think Linares could beat him in similar fashion to how Keith Thurman beat Danny Garcia. I agree 100%. I think Linares’ speed, punch variation and lateral movement would trouble Garcia.

THE SURPRISING REBIRTH OF JORGE LINARES

Hi Dougie,

I have to tell you that if one man has surprised me in boxing it has to be Jorge Linares. After that loss to Antonio DeMarco I surely though he was done, just another hyped up fighter, but now, with this second win over Crolla, I have to say the I’ve eaten my words. Damn the guy’s talented!

I still think that Mikey Garcia will be too much for him but I might be wrong. How do you see that fight turning out? Do you see an easy win for Garcia or do you think Linares is talented enough to give him the fits? Has Linares finally spooked those ghosts of previous KO loses behind? Damn I can’t wait. – Juan Valverde

You can and you will because boxing will likely give you no choice. Ha!

Photo / @MatchroomBoxing

I believe that Linares has put his KO losses behind him (he’s now 11 bouts removed from his back-to-back stoppages to DeMarco and Sergio Thompson) and is currently operating at full confidence, which obviously showed itself against game-but-outclassed Crolla on Saturday in Manchester. This doesn’t mean that an accurate power puncher like Garcia won’t be able to derail him once again. It just won’t be easy for Mikey (or any other world-class lightweight). Linares is a well-traveled, battle-tested, elite-class boxer with heart and the experience of 45 pro bouts (including 11 world title bouts over three weight classes). When he’s on, he’s not untouchable, but he’s very hard to beat.

I still think that Mikey Garcia will be too much for him but I might be wrong. You’re might be right, but you’d be silly to count a boxer as talented and versatile as Linares out.

How do you see that fight turning out? I envision a very competitive fight that goes into the late rounds, or perhaps goes the distance. I’m leaning towards Garcia (especially if the fight is delayed until next year and Mikey is able to get a few more lightweight fights under his belt), probably stopping Linares late, but I would not put any money on that prediction and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Venezuelan vet out-pointed the Southern Californian.

Do you see an easy win for Garcia or do you think Linares is talented enough to give him the fits? I think Linares can do more than give Garcia fits. I think he can befuddle the counter-punching power boxer for significant stretches of the fight and even bust his face up a bit.

I know a lot of hardcore fans believe Linares would be easy work for Garcia, but those fools don’t understand that styles make fights. Garcia looked like a pound-for-pound player against Dejan Zlaticanin but the squat, forward-plodding Montenegro native was

Mikey Garcia (left) works the body of Juan Carlos Burgos. Photo: Naoki Fukuda

TAILOR-MADE for Mikey. Garcia fanatics need to check out his 12-round snoozer against Juan Carlo Burgos and refresh their memories. (I wonder if they remember that the light-punching Brugos buckled Garcia’s legs with a hook at the end of Round 2?)

Mikey doesn’t look like a world-beater when he’s forced to cut the ring off on a mobile foe or has to deal with a fellow counterpuncher with faster hands. The explosive, deadly accurate combinations are there when he faces an aggressive fighter (Zlaticanin, Rocky Martinez, JuanMA Lopez, Siri Salido), but he’s sometimes reduced to launching one shot at a time when he’s on the hunt or is up against someone who can fire a fast jab at him from a safe distance.

Cornelius Lock, a fast and experienced southpaw, gave a young Garcia a competitive fight before being stopped in 11 rounds back in 2010. The taller-and-rangier Burgos made use of a busy jab, feints and side-to-side movement, which frustrated Garcia. Linares, a much better talent and puncher than Burgos, can do a lot more than frustrate Garcia.

GOLDEN BOY’S ESPN SERIES DEBUT

Dougie, hope all is well.

Last Thursday night’s debut of Golden Boy on ESPN sure got my interest, following in the footsteps of the old USA network and ESPN series. I must admit I missed part of the beginning (life still interferes with boxing plans) but for the most part I think it was a success. Teddy Atlas asked Oscar De La Hoya pointedly if the series would have competitive fights, not just be showcases for Golden Boy fighters in a not-too veiled reference to PBC. Let’s hope Oscar is true to his word. Like I said, I missed most of the opener, but the other two fights were entertaining and close to Oscar’s promise.

First, where do you think Randy Caballero fits into the lighter weight divisions? Is he back as a force?

What about Jason Quigley? I thought the judges once again had it right but not by their lop-sided scores, winning 7 rounds but certainly not a shutout as one judge had it, or 8 and 9 as the other two scored it. No shame in that; Glen Tapia is a solid middleweight. Will Quigley develop into a ranked middleweight?

A few thoughts on the announcers: Bernard Hopkins is always great, and I’m a real fan of Teddy Atlas. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years, enjoy his old-fashioned metaphors. But he can get carried away. He needs a Joe Tessitore or Bob Poppa to keep him focused and not a distraction from the fight. I hope you’re listening Golden Boy. As always, the best from me and mine to you and yours. – Ken Kozberg, Oakham, MA

I’m sure the good folks at Golden Boy are listening, but keep in mind that this new boxing series is a co-production between the promoter and the network. Atlas has been ESPN’s “boxing guy” for a couple decades, so he’s got a kind of seniority in the broadcast booth. Hopkins is a boxing legend but he’s a novice commentator compared to Atlas – and he’s admittedly still cutting his teeth with the harder-than-it-looks TV gig – so we can’t expect him to check Atlas when “Teddy goes all Teddy.” It’s going to be the job of Osuna – a relatively young but experienced broadcaster – to reel Atlas in when the veteran trainer starts to go off the rails. Bernardo is classy and respectful so he’ll do it in his own way, on his own terms and his own time as the series progresses.

Keep in mind that they’ve only worked together once and that it takes time for a broadcast booth to gel and improve together, but I believe that it won’t take long for them to solidify their commentating roles and become comfortable with each other. Once that happens, we’ll get more insight from all three and the broadcasts will become more fun for them and the viewer. And having said all of that, I think the commentating for inaugural show was solid, as were the fights overall.

Teddy Atlas asked Oscar De La Hoya pointedly if the series would have competitive fights, not just be showcases for Golden Boy fighters in a not-too veiled reference to PBC. Let’s hope Oscar is true to his word.

It’s too early to tell, Ken, but the main event schedule looks decent so far. I think all three televised fights of the April 1 show (headlined by Antonio Orozco vs. fellow unbeaten 140-pound up-and-comer KeAndre Gibson) from Las Vegas look very competitive on paper.

Like I said, I missed most of the opener, but the other two fights were entertaining and close to Oscar’s promise. Caballero was in tough on paper (especially given his inactivity) and Jesus Ruiz turned out to be just as hardnosed as advertised. Quigley was in “light,” according to popular opinion (including Atlas), but Glen Tapia proved to be tougher than advertised. Caballero-Ruiz featured good action. Quigley-Tapia featured some drama. It wasn’t great TV, but it wasn’t bad at all, in fact, it was a fun way for a hardcore boxing fan to spend his Thursday evening.

Photo by Tom Hogan- Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

First, where do you think Randy Caballero fits into the lighter weight divisions? Is he back as a force? Not yet. I view the Ruiz fight as a rust-shaking exercise. Caballero needed those 10 rounds to get his timing, rhythm and “boxer-identity” back. What he does next and how he performance from this point on will determine if he can be a factor or force in the 122- or 126-pound divisions. There are some worthy future rivals waiting for him at junior featherweight, some of whom are fellow Golden Boy fighters, such as Diego De La Hoya. Others include fellow Southern California standout Daniel Roman and hardnosed Mexican gatekeepers Cesar Juarez. If Randy can beat one of these guys (or fighters of equal rank and ability) he can legitimately break into the 122-pound rankings. It won’t be easy but Caballero has defied the odds before.

What about Jason Quigley? I thought the judges once again had it right but not by their lop-sided scores, winning 7 rounds but certainly not a shutout as one judge had it, or 8 and 9 as the other two scored it. I scored Rounds 4, 5 and 6 for Tapia, so I had Quigley winning by a 97-93

Photo by Tom Hogan- Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

scorecard. I thought he looked sharp early, shaky and under-confident in the middle rounds, and solid down the stretch. He’s got skill, technique and talent, but he’s not putting it all together yet. He’s still a work in progress.

No shame in that; Glen Tapia is a solid middleweight. Well, here’s the thing: Tapia is more experienced than Quigley and that seasoning showed. Yes, he had been stopped by James Kirkland, Michel Soro and David Lemiuex, but Quigley – despite his extensive amateur background – did not bring the degree of experience to the ring that those other middleweights presented to Tapia. Kirkland is a volume-punching, pressure fighting veteran with a true kill-or-be-killed mentality. Soro was a top pro on the European circuit whose only loss was in a title bout against a hometown fighter (and he won the European middleweight title right after sparking Tapia). And Lemieux is a former world titleholder who is arguably the hardest puncher in the 160-pound division. Put simply, Quigley is not (yet) as formidable as the trio that had trounced Tapia, so it shouldn’t shock fans that the Jersey Boy gave the Irish prospect a tougher than expected time. (Folks should also keep in mind that Quigley hurt his right hand in the second round against Tapia.)

Will Quigley develop into a ranked middleweight? I think so. I don’t know so, but I believe that Quigley has that ability and potential, and I really don’t understand all of the harsh criticism he received during and after the Tapia fight. As I reminded folks on Twitter, last Thursday’s outing was only his 13th pro bout. To put this into perspective, let’s look a guy that most hardcore fans currently view as an elite boxer and damn-near unbeatable at 135 pounds – Mikey Garcia. Given his form and accomplishments, I can understand why folks think he’d make easy work of a terrific champion like Linares and hold his own with a super-talent like Lomachenko. But rewind back to Mikey’s 14th pro fight, and you’ll see that he struggled mightily to out-point then-gatekeeper Walter Estrada over eight rounds. Garcia was dropped in that fight against the gangly Colombian southpaw, who had six losses (four by knockout) on his ledger when he was chosen to test the young prospect from Oxnard, Calif. Garcia just edged Estrada by one point on two of the official scorecards. Now, imagine if that fight were on ESPN2 during the social media age, and at the start of the broadcast Teddy Atlas told viewers that Estrada had suffered a fifth-round stoppage in his previous fight and that if Garcia didn’t stop the South American in five rounds or less that he wasn’t the hot prospect his promoters tout him to be. Imagine what fans on Twitter would have said when Garcia hit the deck against “easy work” Estrada? Imagine what they would say when Garcia had to settle for a razor-thin decision victory? They’d probably say that Estrada was robbed and that Garcia is pure hype, and headed nowhere.

But they would have been dead wrong, wouldn’t they?

No bulls__t, Ken, I can give you at least 20 examples of former champions, current and future hall of famers that struggled or lost in their first 12-16 fights OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD. It’s far too early in Quigley’s career to christen him the next big star or to write him off.

GOLOVKIN’S MANAGEMENT

Hey what’s up Dougie?

Recently I read that Team Canelo thinks Gennady Golovkin fighting Billy Joe Saunders in June will hurt the possibility of a showdown in September. In my opinion I think that fight would be the best move for Team GGG if he wins because he will have all of the belts & eliminate who I think is the fall back plan for Canelo in BJS. And pushing 35, I think activity is his best friend. What are your thoughts?

Also, how do you think a Mikey Garcia vs. Lomachenko bout plays out if it happens?

A few mythical matchups:

Bowe vs. Ibeabuchi

Paul Williams vs. Mayweather @ 147

Monzon vs. Hagler

Thanks. – Jamaal, Louisiana

My thoughts on Golovkin is that it was a mistake for his team to wait around to fit into the plans of other fighters last year. That’s why he only fought twice in 2016 and it wasn’t against legit middleweight contenders. This year, I believe they owe it to Golovkin to follow their own schedule and to make fights against the best available middleweight opposition, especially when those bouts will make for major events and are significant to their fighter’s legacy (such as unifying the four major sanctioning organization belts and defending his middleweight crowns in his home country).

Don’t get me wrong, I think Canelo vs. Golovkin is the biggest event that can be made in boxing. I don’t think Team GGG should do anything to deliberately jeopardize that fight, but there’s no sense in talking about Canelo-Golovkin when Canelo first has to get by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on May 6. Why should Golovkin sit idle (in hopes of getting the Mexican superstar in September) when Canelo could break his hand on Junior’s hard head, or get cut or busted up in a grueling distance fight or battle of attrition against the naturally larger man? I know Canelo is a huge favorite but I don’t think him losing to Chavez is out of the realm of possibility. A lot of things can happen on May 6 that could push back the proposed Canelo-Golovkin showdown, so why should GGG stay out of the ring in early summer (especially if Saunders is finally ready to put his WBO title where his mouth is and venture to Kazakhstan)?

I get where Golden Boy’s officers are coming from when they say they want all of June and July to properly promote a Canelo-GGG event, but I think Golovkin fighting in June (and unifying the major belts) only helps the build up to that mega-event. That’s my two cents. If you want to hear what Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler has to say about this subject (and many other subjects) check out the impromptu Periscope interview that I (along with “Chicago” Schwartz) did with him yesterday at the Santa Monica College track:

Also, how do you think a Mikey Garcia vs. Lomachenko bout plays out if it happens? Dude! What the hell is going on!?! Jorge Linares fights on Saturday, looks amazing, and all anyone can talk about is mother f__king Mikey Garcia! WTF? Why do you guys all have Mikey Fever? I’m saying that Loma takes him to school just to spite you all. Take that!

A few mythical matchups:

Bowe vs. Ibeabuchi – Bowe at his best (the 235-pound version that dethroned Evander Holyfield) either stops him late or scores a unanimous decision in a competitive and entertaining fight.

Paul Williams vs. Mayweather @ 147 – P-Will (at his best) swarms and outworks Mayweather to a close but unanimous decision in an ugly fight.

Monzon vs. Hagler – Monzon narrowly outpoints Hagler over 15 rounds in a competitive fight.

COULD JACOBS HAVE BEEN MORE RESPECTFUL?

I enjoy your sober analysis of the fight. I didn’t think Jacobs got robbed but can empathize with him for losing an extremely close fight.

Two things: While disappointed at losing I’m sure I thought Jacobs didn’t present himself well in the after fight interview.

The knockdown looked awkward. I couldn’t get a read on whether Jacobs was seriously hurt. What is your opinion? – Sheryl

Photo by Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/K2 Promotions

It was a clear and clean knockdown in my opinion. The only thing that made it awkward was Jacobs grabbing Golovkin’s leg on his way down and nearly pulling GGG on top of him. However, I don’t think Jacobs was seriously hurt at all. Maybe he was a bit dazed but he handled it well. I thought his eyes looked clear for the rest of the round and he was able to move and protect himself until the bell, so obviously he wasn’t that shook up from the two right hands that put him down.

Regarding his post-fight interview, I thought Jacobs was his usual classy self for the most part. He fought the fight of his career and lost a close decision, so I expected him to be at least a little bit disappointed and he was. He said that he thought he won the fight “by two rounds” and I have no problem with him believing that. I scored it seven rounds to five from press row on March 18, and I thought there were a couple swing rounds. So if Jacobs felt that he did enough to win those close rounds, I can’t be upset at a fighter for giving himself the benefit of the doubt.

(Mind you, I scored the HBO replay of the fight and had it a bit wider for Golovkin upon second review – eight rounds to four, or 116-111 with the Round 4 knockdown.)

The only time during Jacobs’ post-fight chat with Max Kellerman got a little sketchy is when he said the Powers That Be in boxing are pushing for the big Canelo vs. GGG showdown and thus he had to be “X’d out.” But Jacobs caught the negative reaction to that statement from the crowd and quickly moved on to being gracious in defeat. There’s a lot of adrenaline and emotion raging through fighters right after a fight, especially a championship bout in one’s hometown, so keeping this in mind, I thought Jacobs handled the post-fight interview well. He didn’t pull a Malignaggi.

Anyway, thanks for the kind words and for sharing your thoughts with us, Sheryl.

GOLOVKIN-JACOBS AND DREAM FIGHTS

Hey Dougie,

Long time reader going long back to MaxBoxing days, but first time writing in.

I thought GGG won. It’s not like I score the rounds, tho. More just my impression.

My thoughts are mainly that Golovkin was the aggressor. His best shots backed DJ up. DJ’s best never really backed GGG up. And DJ’s best shots were often more slaps than solid hooks. A few landed well but again seemed to have little effect. Like look at GGG’s face after half a fight with Brook and look at his face after 12 rounds with Jacobs. Brook actually beat on GGG a lot more and landed some really dead-on power shots that Jacobs never really did. At least to my eyes. Brook busted him up whereas Jacobs landed a shot or too and then backed up.

Really I think GGG’s lower output and unsureness that everybody’s talking about (although Jacobs was pretty darn hesitant too) had a lot to do with DJ’s size. The guy was just big and tall and rangy. It looked to me like GGG wasn’t getting the right positioning to land with his normal comfort. The man had little rhythm. Obviously, Jacobs’ power probably had something to do with it. I don’t know. Just seemed like two different weight classes represented. It’s gotta be tough fighting a guy who’s bigger than you and is defensive-minded too.

I’m probably one of the very few who didn’t think it was such a great fight. Neither guy mounted a sustained attack. Golovkin might have landed the more flush shots but his punches just didn’t snap like it normally does. Glad I watched but come away a little disappointed. I’m not surprised or disappointed that there wasn’t a KO. I just expected at least two or three memorable rounds – kinda like the Gonzales fight actually.

I’m probably also one of the very few who thought Carmona-Cuadras was fascinating as hell. Cuadras might have won but strangely he kinda got his ass kicked too. What’s the word on Cuadras now?

Last, I would love it if you had feedback on some my dream fights. In your expert opinion, do you think the fight will actually happen in the next three years? And who you think wins?

Jacobs-Lemieux

Canelo-Lemieux

Canelo-Jacobs

L.Ortiz-Joshua

Kovalev-Smith (Not so excited for Kovalev-Ward II)

Lubin-Spence (Love the Spence-Brook fight.)

DGarcia-JVargas

DGarcia-Spence

Crawford-MGarcia

MGarcia-Loma

Valdez-SantaCruz

Rungsivai-Inoue

Thanks for the good work. – Vic

Thanks for finally writing the mailbag, Vic, and for reading my stuff all these years. I’ll get to your dream fights first:

Jacobs-Lemieux – don’t see it happening but I think the version of Jacobs that went 12 with GGG would outpoint Lemmy in a good fight.

Canelo-Lemieux – I think this one will happen and I favor Canelo by late TKO or close UD in a tremendous fight.

Canelo-Jacobs – I don’t see it happening, but I think Jacobs wins a close decision in a tactical fight.

L.Ortiz-Joshua – I think this will eventually happen and I lean toward AJ to win a decision.

Kovalev-Smith – I think this will eventually happen and I favor Kovalev rise from the canvas to pull out a tougher-than-expected shootout.

Lubin-Spence – I think this will eventually happen and I favor Spence to stop Lubin late in a thriller in which both lefty boxer-punchers hit the canvas.

DGarcia-JVargas – I don’t think this will happen but I would favor Vargas by close, maybe controversial decision.

DGarcia-Spence – I think this may happen and I favor Spence by decision in a good fight.

Crawford-MGarcia – I don’t think this gem will happen (which is too bad) but I favor Crawford by decision or late TKO.

MGarcia-Loma – I don’t think this gem will happen either (bummer!) but I favor Loma by close decision.

Valdez-Santa Cruz – I don’t think this potential FOTY will be made but I would favor LSC to win a hard-fought close decision.

Rungsivai-Inoue – I can see this one happening and I like The Monster by competitive but clear decision.

My thoughts are mainly that Golovkin was the aggressor. His best shots backed DJ up. DJ’s best never really backed GGG up. And DJ’s best shots were often more slaps than solid hooks. A few landed well but again seemed to have little effect. That’s how I viewed the fight live and when I watched it on TV.

Like look at GGG’s face after half a fight with Brook and look at his face after 12 rounds with Jacobs. I don’t judge fights by the amount of damage one fighter has on his face. Chocolatito’s face was a mess after going 12 grueling rounds with Sor Rungvisai but I thought he clearly won that fight.

Really I think GGG’s lower output and unsureness that everybody’s talking about (although Jacobs was pretty darn hesitant too) had a lot to do with DJ’s size. I think size was a major factor but not the only factor.

It’s gotta be tough fighting a guy who’s bigger than you and is defensive-minded too. Now GGG knows a little bit about the frustration that Klitschko experienced with Tyson Fury.

I’m probably one of the very few who didn’t think it was such a great fight. You are not alone. I watched it live. I watched it once on TV. I will not watch it a third time.

I’m probably also one of the very few who thought Carmona-Cuadras was fascinating as hell. No dude, you are the ONLY fan who thought that dreadful turd of a fight was fascinating.

Cuadras might have won but strangely he kinda got his ass kicked too. What’s the word on Cuadras now? He’s in the WBC’s line to face Sor Rungvisai or Gonzalez or the winner of an immediate rematch (if the sanctioning organization orders one). He could also try for an all-Mexican showdown against Juan Estrada. That fight could rekindle the interest and excitement he lost with the Carmona dud.

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

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