Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Sergey Kovalev, Teofimo Lopez, Loma vs. Commey)

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The reports of Sergey Kovalev’s demise were greatly exaggerated by boxing fans and pundits.

IS THE KRUSHER REALLY BACK?

Hey Dougie,
Hope all’s good.
I had Sergey Kovalev winning dominantly, 119-109, same as Andre Ward. Looks like he responded very well to Buddy McGirt.

How do you think Kovalev does against the rest of the division at this point? Where does Eleider Alvarez go from here? 3rd fight? Do you think a McGirt trained Kovalev would have easily beaten Ward?

BTW, Teofimo Lopez is a classless POS. And that ref should never be allowed near a ring ever again. Regards. – Anonymzb

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

I agree with your opinion on the referee. Gregorio Alvarez should have jumped in to halt the bout BETWEEN the first hook that shook Diego Magdaleno to his boots and that second hook that put the veteran southpaw down in a bad way. As it was, he had no business starting a damn 10 Count after Magdaleno hit the canvas. The first thing he should have done was a quick “wave-off” motion to signal the end of the fight, and then he should have immediately removed Magdaleno’s mouthpiece to help him breathe. (And while I’m ranting about what people should have done, I’ll add that Maggy’s corner should have kept him on the stool before Round 7.)

I don’t agree with your opinion on Lopez, not yet. He’s always celebrated with “in-your-face” victory dances after scoring cold-ass knockouts, and I think it’s more than just an attention-getting routine with him, it’s part of his ring persona. And although its something he plans to do after his victories, it’s also part of a spontaneous reaction to his own adrenaline, which has to be off the charts in the moment. I didn’t like the “grave-digging” action he did over Magdaleno’s prone body, but I didn’t mind the dance and backflip at all. Hopefully, Lopez will be a little classier in future bouts. If he is, he’ll gain more fans. If he isn’t, well, he’ll gain more fans AND haters, which certainly won’t hurt his Q-rating.

I had Sergey Kovalev winning dominantly, 119-109, same as Andre Ward. I had the exact same card. And I thought Ward did an excellent job calling the fight (alongside Joe Tessitore and Tim Bradley, who were also excellent). (I could have done without Ward at the desk with Max Kellerman. I normally like Max’s analyses, but not when he’s paired with Ward, and definitely not when Kovalev is the subject of their joint-analysis.)

Looks like he responded very well to Buddy McGirt. Yes, indeed. I’m happy for Buddy, who is one of my favorite boxing people. He proved a lot of people wrong (myself included) in the same year that he will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Their successful union was counted out as much as Kovalev was. However, Buddy had Kovalev boxing poised and confident. Not only was his jab poppin’, but his footwork and movement was on point.

How do you think Kovalev does against the rest of the division at this point? I think he’s even-money with the other beltholders as long as he puts boxing before his punching and listens to McGirt. I slightly favor him over Artur Beterbiev and Marcus Browne, and I slightly favor Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Dmitry Bivol over him.

Is Eleider Alvarez still a player in the 175-pound division?

Where does Eleider Alvarez go from here? 3rd fight? I doubt it. Not right away, anyway. Kovalev is looking to unify belts and probably do more business with ESPN/Top Rank, which would mean a showdown against either Gvozdyk or the Beterbiev-Sully Barrera winner. I can envision a match with Bivol if DAZN really comes out of the pocket to make it happen. Alvarez had a co-promotional deal with Top Rank going into the Kovalev rematch but I don’t know how the terms would change in the event of a loss (beyond lesser pay guarantees). Maybe Alvarez will continue to fight on Top Rank/ESPN shows and work his way up to another title shot (against Kovalev, Gvozdyk or Beterbiev), or maybe Al Haymon, who still advises him, will want him to fight a PBC light heavyweight (such as Browne) on a future Showtime or FOX show.

Do you think a McGirt trained Kovalev would have easily beaten Ward? I think Kovalev clearly beat Ward in their first fight, and I think he would have done so with McGirt as his trainer. Would he have beaten Ward “easily” with Buddy in his corner? No. There’s nothing “easy” about sharing the ring with Ward.

 

IMPRESSED WITH KOVALEV, HEADBUTT-CUT PREVENTION

Dear Doug,

So, here’s what I think of Sergei Kovalev after last night. One of the most feared of all fighters until his loss against Andre Ward, a close and hotly disputed decision. Then lost the rematch with Ward, being stopped by the most flagrant low blow “knockout” I’ve seen since Roberto Duran’s shot to Ken Buchanan’s balls. Then fought a “comeback” fight against Eleider Alvarez and got knocked out again, this time legitimately. But in the rematch with Alvarez, Kovalev fought a superbly disciplined fight, a one-sided victory, with no stamina problem in the late rounds and no vulnerability to Alvarez’s occasional right hand punches. This makes the loss to Alvarez look like a lucky punch. I am truly impressed with the Krusher and look forward to another impressive winning streak.

Here’s something that has been bothering me about boxing for a long time: cuts. I hate cuts. If they result from head butts they can end a fight right in the middle, potentially wrecking a fighter’s strategy. The referee is called on to make a difficult decision when a cut occurs, and doesn’t have the benefit of being able to see a replay. Even if a cut is caused by a punch, it hardly seems a legitimate way for a fight to end. Is the objective of a boxer to cut his opponent? I hope not.

I would like to see fighters wear headbands designed with the specific goal of preventing cuts. I think boxing would be improved by this protective device, just as we are better off with groin protectors. I like to see fighters win by legitimately beating their opponents, not by bad luck. – Leslie Gerber, Woodstock, N.Y.

Photo by Esther Lim/Showtime

It’s bad luck if an accidental headbutt opens a nasty cut on one or both boxers, but I don’t think it’s bad luck if a boxer opens a cut on his opponent’s face with a legal punch. I think that’s just part of the professional sport.

Having said that, I’m not against the sport experimenting with some kind of protective headband or “gel-skin” to layer over the fighters’ eyebrows and forehead to limit head-butt cuts and lacerations in those prone facial areas. However, whatever we invent to prevent cuts during prize fights should NOT inhibit the boxers’ vision in any way, or fall apart when it’s hit too many times, or droop down and/or peel off once the boxers start to sweating.

So, here’s what I think of Sergei Kovalev after last night. One of the most feared of all fighters until his loss against Andre Ward, a close and hotly disputed decision. Strange how the ESPN commentators rarely mentioned the controversial nature of that fight.

Then lost the rematch with Ward, being stopped by the most flagrant low blow “knockout” I’ve seen since Roberto Duran’s shot to Ken Buchanan’s balls. Odd that ESPN’s commentators didn’t mention the controversial low blows and referee stoppage that marred the rematch at all.

Then fought a “comeback” fight against Eleider Alvarez and got knocked out again, this time legitimately. And by that point every armchair psychologist had their own downward-spiral psychoanalysis on the “depressed and delusional bully.” I said it in previous mailbags and I’ll repeat it now, not since Mike Tyson has a pro boxer been mentally evaluated by fans and media as much as Kovalev.

But in the rematch with Alvarez, Kovalev fought a superbly disciplined fight, a one-sided victory, with no stamina problem in the late rounds and no vulnerability to Alvarez’s occasional right hand punches. He boxed like a savvy seasoned pro, which is exactly what he is.

Eleider Alvarez (standing) vs. Sergey Kovalev. Photo courtesy of HBO Boxing

Photo courtesy of HBO Boxing

This makes the loss to Alvarez look like a lucky punch. Nah, luck had nothing to do with it. Give Alvarez credit for his victory. He boxed well in that fight, just as Kovalev did. He set up the power shot that hurt Krusher and he closed the show once he gained the upper hand.

I am truly impressed with the Krusher and look forward to another impressive winning streak. We’ll see. He’s got to beat a case before he can beat another boxer in the ring.

Here’s something that has been bothering me about boxing for a long time: cuts. I hate cuts. So do the boxers.

If they result from head butts they can end a fight right in the middle, potentially wrecking a fighter’s strategy. Yep, this is why I generally do not care for reckless fighters who lunge forward, head first.

The referee is called on to make a difficult decision when a cut occurs, and doesn’t have the benefit of being able to see a replay. This should not be. If a ref misses what results in a bad cut, he or she should be able to view a replay between rounds (if the punch or head collision is captured by cameras) in order to make a correct ruling on it.

There are rules in some jurisdictions that allow for a ref to consult a monitor for a replay of a foul, but this should be uniform rule worldwide.

Even if a cut is caused by a punch, it hardly seems a legitimate way for a fight to end. How is it illegitimate? This is why defense is part of the sport. Boxers are supposed to work on not getting hit. If they get hit in the face, there will be damage, including cuts. If your defense is poor, you’re gonna get hit more and you’re more likely to get cut.

And even a good boxer with cut-prone skin will get cut, just like a good boxer with a poor chin will get knocked out. It is what it is.

Is the objective of a boxer to cut his opponent? I hope not. The objective in amateur boxing is to outpoint your opponent by landing legal punches and limiting the amount of punches you take in return – hitting and not getting hit. In professional boxing, the objective is to outpoint your opponent AND do damage. There’s a reason a boxer that gets knocked down loses a point. Cuts by legal punchers are part of the “damage” that is part of professional boxing.

 

WE WERE WRONG ABOUT KOVALEV

Hi Doug,

I must confess that I was so sure Kovalev is gonna get KO’ed again that I was gonna write to you to summarize his career (pompous Me).

How WRONG I was and I’m happy to admit it. Big props to Krusher for fighting a disciplined fight and for showing us his craft – precise jab, feints and high volume punching (Buddy McGirt did wonders). I think that Alvarez was too defensive and thought that Hail Mary punch is coming sooner or later, don’t get me wrong I think he was trying – he’s tough with solid fundamentals but Sergey’s ring generalship was just too much for his lack-of-plan-B attitude.

I think what made a huge difference in this fight was Kovalev’s utilization of his jab. Before the first fight with Andre Ward, many observers were pointing out that the battle will come down to this punch and Kovalev’s jab proofed superior. The absurd verdict of that fight concealed the fact that Krusher had the very best jab in the business (maybe on par with GGG and aside from HW). Saturday night he used it to its fullest. He controlled the distance, started offence behind it, used it to stop Alvarez and dictate tempo of the fight – a pace that Eleider could not break.

What’s next for Kovalev? Will he be a favorite against any other beltholder? His fight with Bivol, because of similar styles, would be interesting, Nail is challenging for anyone and Beterbiev would be favorite at least for John David Jackson. Kovalev don’t have much time, he ain’t shot but his physical prime peaked around his fight with Campillo. How many fights do you think he has left? Also, light heavyweight speaks in Russian now. First such time in history I believe.

Will Alvarez remain around the top? He’s not a youngster himself and other Champions might not be so eager to face him. Maybe if he could get in the ring with Marcus Browne then he would get a shot? How do you think this fight plays out? Best regards. – Lucas

I would favor Browne to outpoint Alvarez due to his excellent jab and footwork, but it would be a good, competitive fight. I would anticipate that matchup.

Will Alvarez remain at the top? Yes, I think so. This was his first loss. It’s not the end of his career, even though he’s 34. He’s still one of the six or seven best light heavyweights in the world. You’re probably right about the titleholders not being eager to face him, but if Yvon Michel and Haymon do their jobs right they can maneuver him into another mandatory challenger position with a crossroads bout against one of Britain’s young prospect/alphabet contenders (Joshua Buatsi or Anthony Yarde) or a showdown with grizzled veteran Badou Jack. I’d be interested in those matchups.

I must confess that I was so sure Kovalev is gonna get KO’ed again that I was gonna write to you to summarize his career (pompous Me). Well, in that case, I’m extra happy for Kovalev’s upset victory. I’m getting sick of everyone summarizing his career.

How WRONG I was and I’m happy to admit it. Same here. I didn’t count Kovalev out or predict that he’d shatter like glass from the first flush punch he took, but I picked Alvarez to win a decision. I thought the bigger, faster, fresher Colombian would beat the Russian to the jab. But Kovalev proved to be the smarter boxer in their rematch. And, no, I wasn’t shocked that he could box like that. I’ve always given him credit for his skills and I’ve never bought into the “mentally shot bully” storyline that was prevalent after the Ward bouts and really blown out of proportion following the KO loss to Alvarez. Even after that setback, I still considered Kovalev to be a top light heavyweight. I didn’t think he mentally folded or ran out of gas. I thought he just got caught with a damn good punch. End of story. 

Big props to Krusher for fighting a disciplined fight and for showing us his craft – precise jab, feints and high volume punching (Buddy McGirt did wonders). Kovalev had a solid amateur career and

Two-division champ-turned-trainer John David Jackson works mitts with Kovalev. Photo courtesy of Main Events

he’s had his share of excellent professional boxing teachers, going back to Don Turner, and his experience showed over those 12 rounds with Alvarez. His performance reminded me of his showings against Bernard Hopkins and Ward (in the first fight). John David Jackson got most of the credit for his performance against B-Hop, and it seems like McGirt is getting most of the credit for his form in the Alvarez rematch, and I agree that both former-champs-turned-trainer deserve props for the work they did with Kovalev, but the fighter also deserves a lot of praise and acknowledgement for his skillset.

I think that Alvarez was too defensive and thought that Hail Mary punch is coming sooner or later, don’t get me wrong I think he was trying – he’s tough with solid fundamentals but Sergey’s ring generalship was just too much for his lack-of-plan-B attitude. Agreed. He needed Kovalev to overcommit or do something really stupid in order to land the perfect whammy and that wasn’t going to happen on Feb. 2. I also wonder if the amount of weight he has to shed to make 175 pounds affected him. He’s got the frame of a damn cruiserweight.

I think what made a huge difference in this fight was Kovalev’s utilization of his jab. Agreed. And props to Ring Ratings Panelist Marty Mulcahey, who predicted that Kovalev would use his left stick to control the bout from the outside and outpoint the Colombian.

Before the first fight with Andre Ward, many observers were pointing out that the battle will come down to this punch and Kovalev’s jab proofed superior. I was one of those observers.

The absurd verdict of that fight concealed the fact that Krusher had the very best jab in the business (maybe on par with GGG and aside from HW). I think Golvokin’s jab is better, but Kovalev’s is definitely world class.

What’s next for Kovalev? He’s got a lawsuit to deal with. He’s charged with felony assault and he’s got to prove in court that he didn’t do what this woman accused him of.

How many fights do you think he has left? Three or four good ones if he beats the case, keeps his nose clean and listens to McGirt. That’s a lot “IFs”.

Also, light heavyweight speaks in Russian now. First such time in history I believe. You might be right about that. Of the four major beltholders, three are Russian and one is Ukrainian. Kellerman said everyone was claiming “the Russians are coming!” prior to Kovalev-Alvarez I. Well, Max, they’re here. By the way, if Gvozdyk and Kovalev fight a unification bout, the vacant Ring Magazine title will be on the line.

 

LOMACHENKO VS. COMMEY

Hi Doug,

A lot of post fight recaps I’ve read have suggested Richard Commey poses a real threat to Lomachenko. His performance on Saturday was impressive but stylistically I don’t see how he’s a major problem for Vasiliy.

Of all current lightweights, barring the obvious in Mikey Garcia, as he’s adventuring at welter, who do you think is the most difficult fight for Loma purely in terms of style?

Am I crazy to already think Teofimo is the only lightweight I watch who’s maybe got the power and the dynamism to pose the biggest threat?

Would love to get your thoughts, hope all the family are well! Best. – Phil, Liverpool

The family is good, Phil, thanks for the well wishes.  

Commey doesn’t have a boxing style that will perplex or test Lomachenko but the Ghanaian’s size, power and durability might pose problems for the natural featherweight. And I have to assume that Commey’s co-trainers Andre Rozier and Gary Stark Sr. are going to come up with the best game plan possible for the biggest fight of his career.  

Commey downs Chaniev.

If this fight happens on April 12 (and there’s a chance it won’t if it turns out that Commey suffered a serious hand injury against Chaniev), I don’t expect it to be a walk in the park for Loma. Commey’s dangerous. If Commey catches the Ukrainian ring wizard with the same right-hand shot that Jorge Linares caught him with, I’m not sure he’ll get up on stable legs as he did last May, and I’m not sure he wouldn’t get caught and dropped again if he couldn’t recover quick enough.

Of all current lightweights, barring the obvious in Mikey Garcia, as he’s adventuring at welter, who do you think is the most difficult fight for Loma purely in terms of style? Luke Campbell.

Am I crazy to already think Teofimo is the only lightweight I watch who’s maybe got the power and the dynamism to pose the biggest threat? A little bit, yeah, but that’s to be expected. Lopez is charismatic and dynamic (as you noted), on top of being the consensus 2018 Prospect of the Year. He’s got juice right now. However, despite Lopez’s elite athleticism and unorthodox style, I consider Commey more of a threat to Loma than the 12-0 up-and-comer (who will crack The Ring’s lightweight rankings with the Magdaleno victory). There’s no substitute for experience.

 

IS KOVALEV A HALL OF FAMER?

Hi Doug,

Hope everything’s well with you and your family. I have a couple of things on my mind. Kovalev was certainly impressive last night, especially because most of us predicted he was going to lose again. I thought he was done and was going to get KO’d inside 5. I was wrong and he showed how good fundamentals and skill can extend your carrier if you understand the limitations your body gives you as you age.

I thought Kovalev was done mentally and the fact that he was able to overcome a KO loss with this boxing performance puts me on the fence on how this guy is going to be remembered.

Do you think he already cemented his spot in the Hall of Fame? I think he’s on the edge of accomplishing enough to get there. Even though most of us thought he beat Ward, not all of us did, specifically the judges. So, much like Golovkin, he doesn’t have the win in his record and the fact that he was beat up in the second fight (weather you think those were low blows or not he did get hurt and was looking very similar to the Alvarez fight) and that he got KO’d vs Alvarez has me doubting if he’s done enough.

What do you think?

Teofimo Lopez is a beast, but still a young beast. Let’s wait for him to get a couple of more fights under his belt before calling him the next great thing. Thanks Doug! – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Good idea, Juan.

Lopez’s remarkable natural talent/athleticism and skillset/style are undeniable, but we haven’t seen his chin tested yet, and we’ve yet to see him fight the eight-round distance, let alone 10 and 12 rounders. But it’s OK to be excited about his potential.

I thought (Kovalev) was done and was going to get KO’d inside 5. So did Alvarez, evidently. It’s fine for fans and media to write off a former champ, but it’s definitely not a good idea for a newly crowned titleholder to do that going into a rematch with the formidable veteran he took the crown from.

I was wrong and he showed how good fundamentals and skill can extend your carrier if you understand the limitations your body gives you as you age. Bernard Hopkins would have been proud had he worked Kovalev’s corner.

I thought Kovalev was done mentally and the fact that he was able to overcome a KO loss with this boxing performance puts me on the fence on how this guy is going to be remembered. If he never fights again, I think he should be remembered as one of the most accomplished light heavyweights of the 2010s.

Do you think he already cemented his spot in the Hall of Fame? No, I agree with you. I think he’s close. I think he’s probably a borderline case, but he needs one more significant victory to push him over the edge. If he were to beat Oleksandr Gvozdyk and win the vacant Ring title (the Ukrainian and the Russian will be the magazine’s Nos. 1- and 2-rated light heavyweights after rankings are updated this week) that will clinch his ticket to Canastota in my opinion.

Even though most of us thought he beat Ward, not all of us did, specifically the judges. F__k those judges. And while I’m at it, f__k judge Massimiliano Bianco and his horrible 115-114 card for the Sergio Garcia-Ted Cheeseman fight.

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer.

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