Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Diaz out to ‘make a statement’ against Jesus Cuadro, eyes Tevin Farmer world title bout

A new weight class and a more assertive attitude has brought Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz impressive victories recently, and the hope is that will lead him to a world title shot in the very near future.

First, Diaz, who is rated No. 6 by The Ring at junior lightweight, will have to get past Jesus Cuadro Saturday night at the Auditorio del Estate in Mexicali, Mexico.

The 12-round bout will stream live on RingTV. com and Facebook Watch on the Golden Boy Fight Night Page (10:30 p.m. ET/ 7:30 p.m. PT).

For Diaz, this is a stay-busy bout ahead of a possible matchup against IBF 130-pound titleholder and red-hot nemesis Tevin Farmer. He is not overlooking Cuadro, but “Jo Joe” wants to make a statement against the Tijuana-based Venezuelan.

“Cuadro is a dangerous fighter,” Diaz told The Ring over the phone Thursday evening. “I know he has a couple of losses, but he has never been stopped. He’s awkward and a lefty. I just want to beat the (expletive) out of him. I want to make a statement at his expense.

“This is a stay-busy fight for my next fight, which I hope is against Tevin Farmer in December for his world title belt.”

Diaz and Farmer have had a war of words over the last several weeks. The hostilities between the pair began earlier this year and almost boiled over at a press conference ahead of Diaz’s bout against Freddy Fonseca in May. The verbal barbs have since continued via social media.

“He crossed the line with me,” said Diaz, who resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey. “He was never supposed to be at the press conference in Las Vegas. He’s a fool. I just want to beat the (expletive) out of him. He made it personal and his fans have thrown insults at me. I’m not looking past Cuadro, but I have unsettled business with Tevin and I know I can defeat him and win the title.”

Gary Russell Jr. (left) vs. Joseph Diaz Jr. Photo credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime

Gary Russell Jr. (left) vs. Joseph Diaz Jr. Photo by Amanda Westcott/Showtime

The 26-year-old Diaz has won three bouts since suffering his lone defeat to WBC featherweight titleholder Gary Russell, Jr. on May 19 of last year. The desperate struggle to make 126 pounds is now behind him, and he has also overcome adversity outside the ring.

“I was going through personal issues in my life in 2017 and 2018,” acknowledged Diaz. “I was in a dark place, even around the Russell fight. I had bad anxiety and mental breakdowns.

“I just have a different outlook now. No more Mr. Nice Guy. My mentality is to be more aggressive, kill or be killed. I actually feel like I’m a savage in the ring since I moved up in weight and have this new aggressive attitude.”

Diaz is yet to face any of the world titleholders or top contenders at 130 pounds but his confidence is sky high.

“I honestly think I’m the best at 130 pounds,” he said. “I know I don’t have a world title belt, but I can beat any of the world champions right now. I just want to get that opportunity to face any of the belt holders in the division, including Farmer.

“I want to challenge myself. I don’t want any easy fights. I don’t want to fight any bums for a vacant world title belt. I challenged to fight the best at 126 pounds and that was against Gary Russell. I lost a decision, but I learned a lot about myself. From that fight, I know what it takes to win. I want to face all the world titleholders. I want to earn my shot against Farmer and it all starts on Saturday night.”

On Friday, Diaz (29-1, 15 knockouts) weighed in at 130 pounds, whereas Cuadro (18-5, 14 KOs) came in at 128.6.

 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013. He can be reached by email at santio89@yahoo.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing

 

 

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Thomas Mattice pulls off the upset in ruining Michael Dutchover’s homecoming

Thomas Mattice upset Michael Dutchover (Credit Amanda Westcott-SHOWTIME)

Thomas Mattice has had a habit of doing this throughout his career. The Cleveland, Ohio lightweight gets called into test the A-side fighter, and sometimes he pulls off a shocker (as he did in a highly controversial eight-round split-decision victory in July 2018 in Iowa over Zhora Hamazaryan).

There was no controversy Friday night.

Mattice (15-1-1, 11 knockouts) pulled off yet another shocker by ruining the homecoming of Michael Dutchover (13-1, 10 knockouts) with an eighth-round TKO on cuts in what was a scheduled 10-rounder on Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation from the La Hacienda Event Center, in Midland, Texas.

Referee Robert Velez stopped the fight with 1:33 left in the eighth, when Dutchover suffered a gaping cut over his left eye. The ringside physician made the call that Dutchover couldn’t continue, and since Velez ruled the cut was caused by a punch, Mattice was awarded the biggest victory of his career—and a possible future date again versus Dutchover in a rematch.

“I wanted a stoppage but not that kind of stoppage. Round by round was a tough fight,” Mattice said. “I kind of thing that when I pushed him back, he got in trouble, because he can’t really fight going backwards. Honestly. He couldn’t box with me, but I got my mind stuck on knocking him out to make it more competitive.

“My corner told me, ‘It’s the eighth round and we probably need a knockout.’ And that’s when I pressed him. He only hurt me twice with his overhand right, but it was just a pop. I’m a big guy. I can take his pops. I’m a little older, I’ve been with bigger guys. That gave me the edge.”

In the beginning, it looked like Dutchover would enjoy a successful homecoming in making his first national TV main event debut. He worked well to the body, though most of his shots were caught by Mattice’s arms and gloves. Dutchover was easily the busier fighter.

With 2:37 left in the second, Dutchover caught Mattice with an overhand right. Later in the round, Dutchover closed in and chopped at the body. After two, it appeared Dutchover was in command.

Mattice started coming back in the third, especially in the last minute of the round. Mattice landed a left on Dutchover, followed by a body shot. It may have been the first round Mattice won.

In the fourth, Mattice came out aggressive again. He went from being chased to the stalker.

Dutchover rebounded later in the fifth, once again going to the body and possibly doing enough to win the round.

Dutchover entered new territory when the fight entered the seventh. Dutchover had never been seven rounds before. It wound being a good round for him. Mattice attempted to steal the round in the late portion of the stanza, but he had taken too much punishment from Dutchover earlier in the round.

In the eighth, Mattice opened a cut over Dutchover’s left eye. Referee Robert Velez stopped the fight with 1:33 left in the eighth, ruling the gaping cut was caused by a punch and not a clash of heads.

The final stats favored Mattice, mostly because of his huge edge in jabs, leading Dutchover 97 of 292 (33%) to Dutchover’s paltry 18 of 220 (8%). Mattice also landed 90 of 166 power shots (54%) to Dutchover’s 103 of 272 (38%) to a total of 187 of 458 total connects (41%) for Mattice to Dutchover’s 121 of 492 (25%).

At the time it was stopped, judges Jesse Reyes (68-65) and Ruben Carrion (69-64) had Dutchover ahead, while judge Ursulo Perez (67-66) had it for Mattice. The Ring had it 67-66 for Dutchover at the time the fight was stopped.

“I’m disappointed. It was a great fight for the fans,” Dutchover said. “The fight unfortunately got cut in the eighth round. I was up in the scorecards and I was going to finish the fight but it was out of my control, the referee stopped it and there’s nothing that I could do about it and that’s that. I got cut with a big punch and it opened up and the ref said I couldn’t continue. I wanted to continue but they didn’t let me.

“I was feeling good, I thought I was going to win. I was sticking to my game plan but the cut changed the course of the fight. I’ll be back.

“The crowd here in Midland came out to support me. It was amazing. I didn’t get the win but these types of things happen in the sport of boxing.”

Ruben Villa gives a boxing lesson to Enrique Vivas

Ruben Villa was touched up a few times, and that’s all Enrique Vivas could manage in a 10-round featherweight co-feature under the Dutchover-Mattice main event.

Villa (17-0, 5 KOs) kept his record clean with a pristine shutout of 25-year-old Enrique Vivas (17-1, 9 KOs).

Judges Jesse Reyes, Ursulo Perez and Ruben Carrion all had the southpaw Villa winning easily, 100-89.

Prior to the sixth round, one of the ropes broke, delaying the fight for almost 11 minutes. By then, Villa had landed 78 of 180 total punches (43%) to Vivas’ 77 of 338 (23%). The huge disparity came in Villa’s 30 of 54 power connects (56%) to Vivas’ 59 of 214 (28%).

Ruben Villa wins (Credit Amanda Westcott-SHOWTIME)

One of Villa’s power shots was a flush left behind a jab that caught Vivas on the chin, sending him down.

The sixth-round delay didn’t derail Villa. Vivas did land a right near the of the round, though Villa’s precise punching frustrated Vivas.

In the end, ShoStats had Villa landing 164-374 total punches (44%) to Vivas’ 148-702 (21%), 79 of 135 power shots (59 %) to Vivas’ 113 of 448 (25%) and 85 of 239 jabs (36 %) to Vivas’ 35 of 254 (14%).

Brandun Lee keeps powering forward

In the opening TV bout, Brandun Lee (17-0, 15 KOs) made easy work of Nicaraguan Milton Arauz (10-2-1, 5 KOs), stopping him at 2:59 of the second round in a scheduled eight-round welterweight bout. Lee was devastating behind a jab and blunt right that crumbled Arauz to the canvas.

Brandun Lee wins (Credit Amanda Westcott-SHOWTIME)

Entering the fight, Lee’s previous 16 opponents had a combined record of 52-225-18. Lee fought for the fifth time this year. By Arauz going two rounds, it snapped Lee’s streak of six-straight, first-round stoppages.

Lee was surprised that Arauz didn’t go down in the first round.

“I’m not used to that so that was a huge wake-up call,” Lee said. “It’s more than just hitting hard; you have to also set up your punches. I kept throwing my jab, throwing my jab, then a hook, hook and then I surprised him with a quick right. I learned that it’s more than just hitting hard. You can hit them hard but you are not going to knock them out all the time.

“I think I’m back in November. I’m not sure when or where but I want to fight again this year.”

 

 

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Kevin Lerena closing in on cruiserweight title shot, must overcome Sefer Seferi on Saturday

Kevin Lerena is on track to fight for a world title belt in 2020 and the cruiserweight contender might be just one victory away.

The Johannesburg native is scheduled to face Sefer Seferi over 12 rounds at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, South Africa.

Lerena, who is rated No. 6 by The Ring at 200 pounds, last fought on June 8, defeating Vasil Ducar by unanimous decision. In his previous bout, on Mar. 16, the 27-year-old returned to action following shoulder surgery to stop Artur Mann in four. Both Ducar and Mann were unbeaten when they faced Lerena.

Long-time South Africa promoter Rodney Berman is planning on staging a major fight card next year at Emperors Palace, where he hopes Lerena headlines in an elimination bout or challenge for a world title belt.

“It is inevitable that a major encounter in the cruiserweight division awaits Lerena next year,” Berman told The Ring in a recent email. “The purse money (from a sanctioning body) would have to be commensurate with the fight. It is difficult to stage a fight of this magnitude in South Africa at the present time, given the weakness of the currency (the rand).”

The southpaw Lerena (23-1, 10 knockouts) is ranked No. 5 by the WBC and No. 6 by the WBA. His only defeat came at the hands of fellow South African Johnny Muller in November 2014, a loss he would avenge a year-and-a-half later by 10th-round stoppage.

Seferi (23-2-1, 21 KOs) has not been in the ring since Nov. 17, when he fought to a majority-decision draw against Firat Arslan. He is best known for losing by fourth-round stoppage to former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in June of last year.

The 40-year-old Seferi, whose other loss was at the hands of Manuel Charr, is of Albanian descent. He was born in Macedonia and now resides in Burgdof, Switzerland.

In a clash of unbeaten junior welterweight prospects, Marios Matamba (11-0, 9 KOs), who is originally from the Congo and now resides in Cape Town, South Africa, will face Pretoria’s Jabulani Makhense (8-0, 4 KOs) in a 12-round bout.

Unbeaten Keaton Gomes (6-0, 4 KOs) will square off against Lebogang Mashitoa (6-1, 2 KOs) in a 10-round cruiserweight bout.

The bout will be broadcast on SuperSport in South Africa.

 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013. He can be reached by email at santio89@yahoo.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing

 

 

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Roman Gonzalez: ‘I am interested in fighting the champs and anyone that stands in my way’

Former pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez has been inactive since he stopped Moises Fuentes a year ago on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin II.

However, the popular Nicaraguan star is set to return before the end of the year and details are imminent.

“Soon we will be finishing negotiations and announcing his next fight, which should land in late October or beginning of November,” Carlos Blandon, advisor to Gonzalez, told The Ring. “His promoter and father figure, Mr. Akihiko Honda, and Teiken have supported him through this phase and he is anxious to make him and all of his fans proud once again.”

Gonzalez (47-2, 39 knockouts) had been set to face Pedro Guevara on December 8, 2018, but he injured his right meniscus [cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone] in training camp.

“He was operated on in Costa Rica on November 30 by Dr. Roberto Blandon at the Hospital Clinic Biblica,” explained Blandon. “They performed a shaving of his meniscus. The surgery was a success.”

Gonzalez was cleared to begin light running on February 2. In April, his P1 American visa ran out and he had to wait until August before it could be renewed. The former four-weight world titleholder began training camp at Coachella Valley, California on September 8.

Currently rated No. 6 by The Ring at 115 pounds, Gonzalez is working with head trainer Marcos Caballero, strength coach Rafael Roja and his father, Luis Gonzalez.

“Chocolatito” is pleased with how things have gone so far and has kept a busy schedule since returning to camp.

“Camp has gone really well,” Gonzalez said. “I feel very happy and grateful to God to be able to run and train like I used to before. I spar Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and I run six miles in the morning. I train in the gym at Lee Espinoza Boxing Club at 3 p.m. and then go to yoga at 8 p.m.”

Team Gonzalez like what they’ve seen so far.

“He is very motivated and feels that he will soon get to the top once again,” said Blandon. “The fact that some people have counted him out gives him even more motivation. He likes the fact that everybody is willing to fight him now and that will get him closer to some title shots.”

Gonzalez, who took on the best opposition and was never scared to challenge himself, has put all the junior bantamweight titleholders on notice.

“I am interested in fighting the champs like [Kal] Yafai, [Juan] Estrada, [Kazuto] Ioka and anyone that stands in my way,” Gonzalez said. “I believe God does everything for a reason. I believe the injury has made me stronger and more prepared for the following years in boxing. I still have more to conquer and with the team I have, it is a winning formula.”

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at elraincoat@live.co.uk and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright

 

 

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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Canelo vs. Kovalev, Fury’s cut, mythical matchups)

CANELO VS. KOVALEV

Hello Dougie,

Wow, I’m very impressed with Canelo Alvarez in taking this fight with Sergey Kovalev. This is obviously a huge risk (as I’ve said before) as Kovalev is not a shot fighter as a lot of people think. If Canelo wins this fight, damn, he’s getting closer to that top 10 Mexican boxers ever, he’s probably already cracked the list, or just scratching it, but I think this win will catapult him to the top of the p4p list and get him in that coveted list.

Seeing them together for the first time kinda reminds us that Kovalev is two divisions higher than him, something people seem to forget.   Sergey has only been hurt by far bigger fighters. I think people are (again), overrating Canelo’s power because he almost decapitated Kirkland, Khan and Fielding. His fights against elite Middleweights showed us that he doesn’t have the power to KO the best at that weight class, so I still don’t understand how people think he can move up 15 pounds and KO a far bigger tougher guy. I just don’t see it.

Now, I do consider Canelo to be an elite master boxer with great defensive skills, I think he’s better than Andre Ward in those two things (yes butcher me people). The thing is, I don’t consider Canelo to be an overall better fighter than Ward. Andre is more savvy and cagey, he also knows how to take advantage of the rules and bully a bully. He’s also bigger and stronger so he’s able to deal with the raw strength of a guy like Kovalev.

So, from my point of view, if Canelo doesn’t bring any sort of power and strength to this fight, he’s basically doomed. Kovalev has underrated technical skills plus he does have very good punching power and speed, I don’t think Canelo expects that. He’s also very accurate and throws lots of punches.

Now, I do see why people favor Canelo though, he is a very good fighter and has the intangibles going. We’ve also seen Kovalev KO’d twice in his last 5 fights and lose 3 of those fights, so it’s easy to see how people see that as a more likely scenario. Canelo also has improved a lot recently and his mastery of Daniel Jacobs might give us a good hint in how he may be able to dominate a bigger man like Sergey.

So even though it seems I’m heavily favoring Kovalev, I’m not. I think Canelo’s team see this fight in the same way Cotto saw “Maravilla” Martinez before facing him, as a shot fighter ready to be taken. I see this fight more in the likes of BHop vs De La Hoya, a bigger guy with very good boxing skills just using his advantages and a smaller guy biting a little bit too much to be able to deal with.

What do you think? Here some MM (I’m usually not that big with these, but I thought of a few that might be interesting):

Canelo vs James Toney

Kovalev vs Michael Spinks

Julian Jackson vs GGG

Michael Moorer vs Dmitri Bivol

Tyson Fury vs Evander Holyfield

Welcome Ncita vs Naoya Inoue

Thanks Doug! – Juan Valverde, San Diego

The Martinez-Cotto clash didn’t go well for the bigger defending champion.

Toney by decision in a competitive chess match, Spinks by late KO, Golovkin by careful mid-rounds stoppage, Moorer by late TKO, Holyfield by decision (perhaps controversial), Inoue by late KO in a very competitive fight (maybe come-from-behind).

Interesting comparison with Canelo-Kovalev and Cotto-Martinez. You might be right about Team Canelo’s assumptions about

Kovalev. Team Cotto (which included the astute eye of Freddie Roach, who trained Julio Cesar Chavez for the Mexican slacker’s showdown with Martinez) turned out to be correct in their assumption. However, here’s the big difference: Maravilla (who I had the utmost respect for and even favored in that matchup) was a total question mark going into the Cotto fight. He fell apart late vs. Junior in 2012 and struggled like hell against Martin Murray in his only bout of 2013 (and many, myself included, thought he needed a hometown gift decision to retain his Ring/WBC titles). Martinez had been out of the ring for more than a year going into the Cotto fight. That’s not the case with Kovalev, who has fought twice this year. We know more about Kovalev going into his fight with a naturally smaller elite boxer than we did of Martinez. We know Kovalev still has his legs, his world-class jab, his wits and fighting spirit.

I don’t know about your Hopkins-De La Hoya comparison. I just hope it’s a better fight than that 2004 undisputed middleweight championship.

I’m very impressed with Canelo Alvarez in taking this fight with Sergey Kovalev. You’re not alone, but you still might be in the minority, at least out in the twisted Twitterverse. Canelo’s sure has his haters and critics.

This is obviously a huge risk (as I’ve said before) as Kovalev is not a shot fighter as a lot of people think. The same goobers that claim Kovalev is “shot” said he would implode the first time Eleider Alvarez even grazed him with a right hand in their rematch. Those fools couldn’t give Kovalev any credit for outpointing (and outclassing) Alvarez, and we already know they won’t give Canelo any credit if he beats Kovalev.

If Canelo wins this fight, damn, he’s getting closer to that top 10 Mexican boxers ever, he’s probably already cracked the list, or just scratching it, but I think this win will catapult him to the top of the p4p list and get him in that coveted list. I think the argument could be made for Canelo deserving that top spot in the mythical rankings (if he beat Kovalev clearly and without controversy), but I doubt the various ratings panels of The Ring, ESPN.com, the TBRB, etc., will push him ahead of Vasiliy Lomachenko and Terence Crawford. Regarding his place among the 10 best Mexican boxers ever, that’s a tough one. There are so many amazing boxers from your country. We all know about the popular legends, such as Chavez, Sanchez, Olivares, Zarate, and The Three Muskateers of the ‘90s/2000s (Barrera, Marquez and Morales), but there are also underrated hall of famers (including Miguel Canto and Vicente Saldivar), as well as standout pioneers of the 1930s and ‘40s (such as Kid Azteca, Baby Arizmendi, Juan Zurita and Enrique Bolanos) to be considered.

Seeing them together for the first time kinda reminds us that Kovalev is two divisions higher than him, something people seem to forget. There are certain fighters that make hardcore fans crazy. Canelo and Kovalev are two such fighters, so we can expect a segment of boxing fandom to forget a lot of things going into this matchup.

Sergey has only been hurt by far bigger fighters. True.

I think people are (again), overrating Canelo’s power because he almost decapitated Kirkland, Khan and Fielding. Not exactly Murderer’s Row from 154 to 168 pounds, and they didn’t have reputations for taking a good shot.

His fights against elite Middleweights showed us that he doesn’t have the power to KO the best at that weight class, so I still don’t understand how people think he can move up 15 pounds and KO a far bigger tougher guy. They’ve either been brainwashed by Andre Ward (who, I admit, can do no wrong) and believe Kovalev is a mental pygmy with jello pudding for guts, or they’re Canelo Critics who refuse to give the Mexican star credit for anything, so they want to say that he SHOULD KO Kovalev so that if he doesn’t, they can say he sucks.

I just don’t see it. I can see it, but damn, it won’t come easy. If he gets the stoppage, he will have had to walk through fire and EARN it.

Now, I do consider Canelo to be an elite master boxer with great defensive skills, I think he’s better than Andre Ward in those two things (yes butcher me people). BLASPHEMY!

The thing is, I don’t consider Canelo to be an overall better fighter than Ward. OK, you saved yourself there. Just as long as you realize that he can do no wrong, we’re good.

Andre is more savvy and cagey, he also knows how to take advantage of the rules and bully a bully. Oh, just come out and say it, damn it! He’s an all-time great and we’re not worthy of his presence on this earthly plane.

He’s also bigger and stronger so he’s able to deal with the raw strength of a guy like Kovalev. True. He’s more athletic than Canelo, too. (He also speaks better English.)

So, from my point of view, if Canelo doesn’t bring any sort of power and strength to this fight, he’s basically doomed. He brings considerable physical strength and decent power, but more importantly, a quick mind, fast hands and accurate counterpunching. He can handle himself against a bigger man, even one as good as Kovalev.

Kovalev has underrated technical skills plus he does have very good punching power and speed, I don’t think Canelo expects that. If Canelo isn’t expecting any of that, he’s a damn fool, but I think he knows exactly what he’s getting into.

Kovalev was able to “touch” and trouble Andre Ward with his jab. Can he do the same vs. Canelo?

He’s also very accurate and throws lots of punches. That’s what Buddy McGirt says is Kovalev’s key to victory, being busy (but smart and accurate) and setting a pace that takes Canelo out of his comfort zone.

Now, I do see why people favor Canelo though, he is a very good fighter and has the intangibles going. He deserves his place among the pound-for-pound best.

We’ve also seen Kovalev KO’d twice in his last 5 fights and lose 3 of those fights, so it’s easy to see how people see that as a more likely scenario. These people need to put those losses in context. The first loss to Ward was controversial and the rematch wasn’t without controversy because of the unpenalized low blows the American was allowed. I don’t think either fight with Ward was on a level playing field in terms of the officiating. And against Eleider, who happens to be a cruiserweight sized light heavyweight, he was doing just fine before he got clipped.

Canelo also has improved a lot recently and his mastery of Daniel Jacobs might give us a good hint in how he may be able to dominate a bigger man like Sergey. Maybe, but against Kovalev he’ll be sharing the ring with a bigger man who commits to his jab and power punches.

 

100% HEALED BY FEBRUARY?

Hi Dougie,

All the best to you and yours. Hope you enjoyed the summer and you’re ready for the packed schedule from here on out.

Quick one on Tyson Fury’s cut – how long do you think it will keep him out for? With a gash like that how long does it typically take to fully heal and do different fighters tend to heal more quickly than others?

Cheers. – Alex, NYC

Hey, Alex. I’m ready for a very busy Fall/Winter boxing season, kicking off with the Spence-Porter showdown and culminating with the Ruiz-Joshua rematch.

Ben Davison and Fury. Photo by Mikey Williams

Regarding Fury’s cut, yes, some people heal from cuts (facial lacerations in particular) faster than others. I don’t know if Fury is one of those fast healers. It typically takes two months for a deep facial cut to heal completely, so Fury’s going to have to avoid contact at least until mid-November. And, while I’m no doctor or plastic surgeon, it looks like Fury’s cuts are gonna need more than eight weeks to fully heal.

Regardless of how long it takes, I think he’s going to have to be very careful once he begins the sparring portion of his camp for the proposed Deontay Wilder rematch in February. Fury’s going to need special protective headgear to ensure those cuts (especially the long one above his right eye) don’t reopen.

 

MORE MYTHICAL MATCHUPS

Hi Doug,

I wrote in about a year ago to your Ring Dougie Bag for the first time and got published, 20-year Maxboxing vet, followed you over when you disappeared suddenly (!), but never engaged until recently. You dropped knowledge and when you were there that site was the place to be. Still waiting for my T-shirt, by the way. How is your boy Steve Kim?

I’ve seen from afar you grow from the ponytaied nerd to interviewing Hopkins to getting on TV to now, becoming a hugely important figure in the fight world, got a lot of respect for your diligence and determination man, you know your s__t, even if it’s not what people want to hear, you say it and some people respect that, Doug.

Seems mythical matchups are popular, so allow me to try some, apologies if you’ve already covered them:

Mike Tyson V Tyson Fury
Joe Calzaghe V James Toney (168)
Nigel Benn V Canelo (160)
James Toney V Deontay Wilder

Probably guess I’m a big fan of James, and I know you have talked to him many times, be interested in your thoughts how he’d fare against today’s heavyweights in general.

Final question, do you think Joe Calzaghe was the greatest Super Middleweight of all time?

Love from Cardiff Bay to you Brother. – Johnny, Wales

Hey, Johnny, thanks for the very kind words and for following for all these years. For the record, I’m still a ponytailed nerd and Kim’s doing great over at ESPN.com. (Oh, and if I can find an old MaxBoxing T-shirt still in its plastic wrap, I’ll mail it to ya.)

Is Calzaghe the greatest super middleweight of all time? I think an argument can be made for the Welsh Wizard being No. 1. He’s the longest-reigning 168-pound champ (10 years) in the relatively short history of the division and he tied the title-defense record for the weight class (21). He also unified major titles.

Roy Jones was in his prime during the mid-90s, when he ruled super middleweight.

However, my choice is Roy Jones Jr. I think he was at his best at 168 pounds – late 1994 to late ’96 – explosive, deadly accurate and nearly untouchable. Even before he beat Toney for the IBF 168-pound title, he was impressive in super middleweight bouts against Sugar Boy Malinga and Percy Harris.

Toney against this era’s heavyweights? Well, he believes that if he were in his mid-30s again, he’s wipe his ass with them, especially Wilder, who he views as the “easiest” of the beltholders. I’m not so sure about that. Apart from Ruiz, they might be too damn big. I can envision him outpointing Andy (who he’s sparred with), but I have a hard time picking him against the others.

On to your Mythical Matchups:

Mike Tyson V Tyson Fury – Prime Iron Mike would have an early window to get inside and chop Fury down with body shots before clipping him for the count (and he certainly had that ability), but if the Gypsy King (who is much bigger than anyone Tyson ever had to deal with) could play keep-away and jab-and-grab for five or six rounds I think he could work his magic and frustrate the hell out of the Brooklyn legend. I’m gonna go with Fury on points.

Joe Calzaghe V James Toney (168) – I think Toney is a better fighter overall and I believe the American has the better resume/legacy, but styles make fights and Calzaghe is all wrong for him. It would still be a competitive fight, and I can see Toney catching and hurting Calzaghe, maybe dropping him, but I also believe the gutsy, mobile and frenetic southpaw could survive such moments and come on strong – without pressuring the Michigan native and playing to his counterpunching strengths – over the second half of the fight. I think Calzaghe’s footwork and lateral movement could be the difference in this one. Don’t tell James I wrote this but I gotta go with Calzaghe on points in a hotly contested boxing match.

Nigel Benn V Canelo (160) – Dangerous fight for Alvarez, but I think the crafty ginger would avoid Benn’s bombs for four or five rounds (while counterpunching the s__t out of the Dark Destroyer) and wear the Londoner down to a late stoppage.

James Toney V Deontay Wilder – Toney doesn’t think much of Wilder (and he thinks even less of fans and media that believe the Bronze Bomber is good). However, while Toney has forgotten more about boxing than Deontay will ever learn, and he’s one of the toughest boxers I’ve ever seen/covered (maybe THE toughest), I can still envision one of Wilder’s crazy head shots knocking him for a loop. I’ll never hear the end of it if this gets back to Toney, but I gotta go with Wilder by mid-rounds stoppage. Toney’s been hit hard by some big punchers, from middleweight to heavyweight, but Wilder cracks harder than all of them, and the Alabama native’s wild technique that James criticizes would probably help him land the perfect bomb.  

 

Email Fischer at dougie@boxingmailbag.com. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track.

The post Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Canelo vs. Kovalev, Fury’s cut, mythical matchups) appeared first on The Ring.

Michael Dutchover is ready for his primetime homecoming Friday night on ShoBox

Danny Zamora (left) and lightweight Michael Dutchover

Michael Dutchover is ready for the fight. But first, the smooth, 21-year-old undefeated lightweight from West Texas has another battle to wage before he steps through the ropes in his first national-TV primetime main event—that’s to get himself under control.

Dutchover (13-0, 10 knockouts) will be facing the dangerous Thomas Mattice (14-1-1, 10 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight main event Friday night (10:30PM ET/PT) on Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation from the La Hacienda Event Center, in Midland, Texas.

Before Dutchover gets into that red-hot crucible and under those bright lights, he’ll be waging war against a tsunami of internal emotions fighting before his hometown crowd. They expect a show. Dutchover wants to supply it, though he knows he has to stay contained and within himself if he’s going to succeed. Dutchover, who’s 5-foot-7½, has seen too many homecomings blow up when the hometown fighter emotionally implodes in the ring and exposes themselves when trying too hard to stop their opponent.

“I’ve prepared for that in the weeks leading up to the fight, because I know there will be a ton of emotions going on,” admitted Dutchover, who will be wearing a Texas Longhorns No. 32 jersey in honor of former Midland-Lee High School star, former Texas star and former Chicago Bear running back Cedric Benson, who was killed with a friend in a motorcycle accident on August 17, 2019.” I have to focus on my game plan and my game plan is in the right. It doesn’t matter where that ring is, it could be Las Vegas, New York, Dallas, or here in my hometown in Midland, the ring is really my home.

“That’s how I see it. Everything is still a learning experience for me, and this has been one of my biggest tests. My friends and family know. It’s why my cell phone is off again and I’m letting other people handle ticket requests and stuff like that. I carry the same attitude into every fight. Wherever the ring is, that’s my home. I know that attitude isn’t going to be tested as much as it will this fight.

“My mind is focused. I am ready and I can’t wait.”

The 5-foot-9 Mattice, 29, holds a little bit of infamy on ShoBox. It was Mattice who was awarded a highly controversial eight-round split-decision in July 2018 in Iowa over Zhora Hamazaryan, who dropped Mattice in the second round of that fight. Showtime Hall of Fame broadcasters Barry Tompkins and Steve Farhood called it one of the worst decisions they’ve ever seen on ShoBox.

Mattice is durable and Dutchover calls him the best opposition he’s faced in his young career.

“I’m prepared for a 10-round fight, but I also want to make a statement with this fight,” Dutchover said. “I think it is right to say that despite coming home, I have to forget that I’m in Midland. I’m looking at this fight as a business trip. It’s my job to take care of that business first. Then, I can celebrate with my family afterward.

“I’m not taking this guy lightly. I know what he can do. He doesn’t like to bang much. I’ll force my will on him to break his will from the very first bell to the last bell. But I will be celebrating afterward.

“I can’t wait.”

 

 

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Ruben Villa is ready to make Enrique Vivas look silly on ShoBox Friday night

Ruben Villa IV. Photo credit: Emily Harney

Ruben Villa is playfully conniving. You see, the undefeated 22-year-old southpaw is very serious when he gets in the ring with anyone, whether it’s sparring or just hitting the pads and working on angles. He’s also very intelligent. He believes in himself. All elite fighters should.

In fact, Villa is so full of confidence that his superior skills get taken over by the instinct of making his opponent look like a fool. That’s going to his goal Friday night (10:30PM ET/PT) when Villa (16-0, 5 knockouts) appears in the co-feature on Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation against 25-year-old Enrique Vivas (17-0, 9 KOs) from the La Hacienda Event Center, in Midland, Texas.

“I want to frustrate (Vivas) and make him look silly to the point where I’m dominating him,” Villa said. “If I start putting pressure on him and walk him down, I’ll do that. The first part of the fight, I’ll working on boxing him and breaking him down. Embarrassing my opponents has always been a part of my game.

“I love breaking an opponent down, so when you have an aggressive fighter in front of you, it helped me and adds more points to what I do and my skill level. What I’m going to next, hopefully by the middle of next year, I’ll get a title shot. That starts with dominating this kind of fighter and showing everyone what I can do.”

Villa said he developed the mentality to make his foes swing at air when he roughly 14 or 15, coming up through the amateur ranks. It was around the time he his skills were becoming more defined. With improvement and increased knowledge in fighting assorted styles and different approaches, Villa started to become more grounded in what he could do defensively to make foes miss.

“I would fight this aggressive, awkward Mexican veterans who were really trying to take my young head off that I started to sharpen what my skills. But it really didn’t sink in that I could make guys look silly until early in my pro career. That came with playing it smart and looking to outbox who I faced.

“You do need a certain amount of confidence to do it, but all world champions have to have that. It’s not being cocky. It’s who I am. I’ll make my career longer. I don’t mind being cute, but I also don’t mind being hit. I can take a punch. But what I do with my style, it’s just a matter of knowing what I can do. I know, especially against (Vivas).”

Villa is an inch taller than the 5-foot-5 Vivas. Villa also knows Vivas will come right at him.

“He’s a real aggressive, Mexican-style fighter and he has his way,” Villa said. “This is a good step-up fight for me. I’m ready. I would say he’s probably the toughest I’ll face as a pro. But I am confident. I’ve had a great training camp. I’m ready to make this guy look like a fool.”

It’s nothing new for Villa.

 

 

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