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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Nonito Donarie, Haney-Linares)

sportsman

Active member
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DONAIRE, HANEY & SOME KOSTYA TSZYU WHAT-IFS?

Hi Dougie,

First time writing in a while but still an avid Mailbag reader, as I have been for what must be close to 20 years.

Nonito Donaire has an epic left hook! I first saw him years ago when he leveled Vic Darchinyan and I’m ecstatic he is still going. I thought after the Inoue fight, he wouldn’t be the same anymore, but very happy to be proven wrong. I would like to see him ride off into the sunset though and into the HOF. Does he keep going?

What did you make of Devin Haney? I was hoping he would make a statement and get Jorge Linares out of there. I think that fight showed he still has a long way to go, which is fine since he is only 22. I am not even sure he is top 5 at 135.

Finally, if Kostya Tszyu had moved up to 147, how would he have fared? I don’t think he would have beaten any of the elite welterweights of the mid to late 90s, but in the early 2000s he would of had success.

MM: De La Hoya vs Tszyu at 140 & 147. Thanks mate. Regards. – Will

I’ve been given this particular Mythical Matchup many times before, and my opinion doesn’t chance, although Kostya will always be a KING in my eyes, and I seldom pick against him in junior welterweight dream fights, the Jesus Rivero-trained 140-pound version The Golden Boy is one of the few exceptions. I like Oscar by close, maybe majority decision at 140 pounds, and via competitive but clear UD at 147.

I think Tszyu would have had a lot of success had he immediately moved to welterweight after attaining undisputed 140-pound champion status with his second-round TKO of Zab Judah in November 2001.


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Kostya Tszyu proved to be No. 1 at junior welterweight by the end of 2001. Could he have been KING at 147 pounds? Photo from The Ring archive.


In my not-so humble opinion, The Thunder From Down Under would have decapitated all six heads of Andrew Lewis (who held the WBA belt from 2001-2002) and he would have obliterated Michele Piccirillo (who held the IBF title from 2002-2003). As underrated as I believe Cory Spinks was/is (I thought the St. Louis southpaw outpointed middleweight champ Jermain Taylor), I think the Next Generation Jinx’s style was tailor made for Tszyu, who I envision scoring a late stoppage the way Judah did in their rematch. Speaking of Judah, a rematch with King Kostya at 147 would have been interesting. I still give Tszyu the edge but I think the welterweight version of Judah fares a lot better than he did at 140, I see that one going the distance. Ricardo Mayorga’s unorthodox power-hitting might have given Tszyu some problems, but since the Matador wasn’t really a pressure-fighting volume puncher, I can see Kostya picking him apart with more accurate power shots from mid-distance. But Mayorga was tough and crafty. That would’ve been a dangerous assignment. So would Vernon Forrest, the man that Mayorga dethroned. Tszyu had the unique style and experience to beat Forrest in the amateurs, but the pro welterweight version of the Viper was a complete boxer-puncher, Forrest might have been able to gain revenge had that fight (which Tszyu had considered) been made.

Nonito Donaire has an epic left hook! One of the best ever, in my opinion. Put it up there with Joe Frazier’s “Whip from the Hip” and Felix Trinidad’s “Grim Reaper Sickle-Hook.”

I first saw him years ago when he leveled Vic Darchinyan and I’m ecstatic he is still going. That One-Hitter-Quitter of my man Darch Vader was The Ring’s KO and Upset of the Year. What a way to achieve elite-boxer status and for a Filipino flyweight to explode into American boxing fans’ consciousness. I was ringside for his pro debut and third pro bout, which took place at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, California – 20 years ago, around the same time that I started doing the Mailbag column on MaxBoxing.com – and while I could see that Nonito was brimming with raw talent, I had no idea at the time that I was witnessing a future first-ballot hall of famer.

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Donaire (left) fought brilliantly against Naoya Inoue. Photo by Naoki Fukuda


I thought after the Inoue fight, he wouldn’t be the same anymore, but very happy to be proven wrong. That was a fair take given his age, time in the sport and the brutal nature of the 2019 Fight of the Year, but I thought he was very live vs. Oubaali, who is strong and competent, but tailor-made for Donaire’s stalk-and-counter style. Of the two veterans in action on Saturday, I thought Donaire had the better chance of pulling the upset due to his reliable chin and freakish power.

I would like to see him ride off into the sunset though and into the HOF. Does he keep going? Of course! He wants a rematch with Inoue. If Guillermo Rigondeaux beats his countryman John Riel Casimero for the WBO belt in August, he might want a revenge unification clash with the Cuban legend.

What did you make of Devin Haney? I thought he looked absolutely sensational for eight rounds. I was extremely impressed with his jab – and the variation he exhibited with that left stick – and his control of distance and power-punch accuracy. Haney was razor sharp to my eyes, while Linares was merely tough and game (not nearly as crafty as I expected him to be), but the 35-year-old veteran’s tenacity made for an entertaining fight from Rounds 4-10.

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Haney was on point with his uppercuts and hooks but he was unable to drop or stop Linares.


I was hoping he would make a statement and get Jorge Linares out of there. If he could truly punch at 135, he would have iced Linares at some point because he nailed the worldly Venezuelan FLUSH with his best power shots, but nothing happened. So, when it comes to punching power, that’s one category where Haney doesn’t not stand out, but I think he makes up for the lack of pop with skill, technique and ring generalship.

I think that fight showed he still has a long way to go, which is fine since he is only 22. I agree. It was an excellent experience for him. He didn’t deal with his wobbly moment the way the crowd wanted him to, but he survived and won the fight. Now he can look back on those 12 rounds with his father (and maybe Ben Davison) and see what he did right and where he can improve. He’s going to have to keep his focus and defense tight down the stretch against experienced fighters, especially those who can crack, he’s going to improve his stamina a bit because I thought he ran out of some steam after the eight round, and part of the reason he held so much in Rounds 11 and 12 was due to fatigue.

I am not even sure he is top 5 at 135. Haney is No. 3 in The Ring’s lightweight rankings, behind champion Teofimo Lopez, Vasiliy Lomachenko, and Ryan Garcia. And I think that’s a fair placement. In fact, I can see him replacing Garcia at No. 2 based on the Linares victory. If Haney and Garcia were to fight, I’d view it as an even-money matchup. Haney would have the edge in ring command but Garcia would be very dangerous with his blend of speed and power.



SHOUT OUT TO THE VETERANS

Hi Dougie –

Shout out to the Vets! Nonito is my guy & he did it again. What’s next for him??

Speaking of vets, Devin really impressed but I think Linares really did good work just not enough. I was wondering why he didn’t go for broke (last 2 rounds) but I think he’s earned another good check or two. Lopez (if he wins) vs. Haney next please.

I feel like Teofimo beats Haney, Garcia, Davis & Taylor (all entertaining). I think Taylor should definitely stay at 140 for a few fights (Teo & Prograis 2 are good, high profile options).

What’s next for Crawford? Ortiz? Ennis?

I think PacMan is against all odds vs Spence but I think he chose Spence over Crawford for a reason. TC reminds me of Hagler in the sense that I get this feeling he may walk away soon. I could be wrong but he seems like he called for the WWs by name in the past & won’t do it every interview. I like that Tim Bradley asked for Spence to honor his claim to fight him next if he beats Manny. Not getting into whose fault it is but I guess I just hate to see wasted primes.

GGG vs Murata in December with light interim touches first is what I hear. So considering 154 Charlo is fighting for all the straps & if 160 Charlo gets past his opponent, Charlo vs Andrade seems logical. I just picture it being weird at the cookout for one to be fully unified MAYBE & the other leaving an obvious unification on the table…

My final thought… Davis fighting at 140 seems (in my mind) to be a guy who can’t make 130 but is waiting for Teofimo’s inevitable move to 140 so that he can immediately pursue the lightweight titles. I don’t think I’m hating.

MM:

Duran vs Henry Armstrong (LW)

Willie Pep vs Salvador Sanchez (124)

Sonny Liston vs Joe Louis

Julian Williams vs Trinidad/Hearns (154)

Take care. – Jamaal, Louisiana

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Jamaal.

Your Mythical Matchups:


Duran vs Henry Armstrong (LW)Duran by close UD (great fight)

Willie Pep vs Salvador Sanchez (124)Pep close MD or SD

Sonny Liston vs Joe LouisLouis late TKO

Julian Williams vs Trinidad/Hearns (154)Tito/Hitman via KO

Nonito is my guy & he did it again. What’s next for him?? His goal is a rematch with Inoue, but if that showdown can’t be made in a timely fashion (and let’s face there are typical boxing politics that would get in the way of it happening in the U.S.), I can see the future HOFer facing fellow Pinoy Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 20 KOs), who won the WBC interim title with a controversial SD over Emmanuel Rodriguez in December.

Speaking of vets, Devin really impressed but I think Linares really did good work just not enough. Linares was tough and game enough to make the fight interesting, but I didn’t see the close and/or competitive fight that the official judges scored. I had Haney shutting the veteran out through the first 10 rounds and dropping only the championship rounds due to the excessive holding. I could see Linares winning Rounds 4 and 9, but I think one has to really give the three-division titleholder the benefit of the doubt to do that.

I was wondering why he didn’t go for broke (last 2 rounds) but I think he’s earned another good check or two. Linares was just as fatigued as Haney was during those final two rounds, plus he was more beat up. Still, he gave a very good effort and he remains a player at 135 pounds. I’d love to see him take on the loser of one of the upcoming high-profile lightweight matchups – Lomachenko-Nakatani on June 26 and Javier Fortuna-JoJo Diaz Jr. on July 9 – or serve as a gatekeeper to one of the up-and-comers trying to break in the legit rankings like Emmanuel Tagoe or Denys Berinchyk.

Lopez (if he wins) vs. Haney next please. Sign me up for that one.

I feel like Teofimo beats Haney, Garcia, Davis & Taylor (all entertaining). I can see Lopez being the odds favorite in all four of those matchups, which is fair. I’d probably pick him to win all but the Taylor matchup.

I think Taylor should definitely stay at 140 for a few fights (Teo & Prograis 2 are good, high profile options). I agree.

What’s next for Crawford? Ortiz? Ennis? I have no idea, but I have a suggestion: Ortiz vs. Ennis, and the winner challenges Crawford.

I think PacMan is against all odds vs Spence but I think he chose Spence over Crawford for a reason. Yeah, Crawford is more of a handful.

TC reminds me of Hagler in the sense that I get this feeling he may walk away soon. It would be an anticlimactic end to a terrific career if he did that without a superfight under his belt.

I could be wrong but he seems like he called for the WWs by name in the past & won’t do it every interview. He doesn’t seem fond of interviews, period.

I like that Tim Bradley asked for Spence to honor his claim to fight him next if he beats Manny. Not getting into whose fault it is but I guess I just hate to see wasted primes. I’m losing interest in the Spence-Crawford matchup.

GGG vs Murata in December with light interim touches first is what I hear. Sign me up for the New Year’s Eve showdown. I might try to travel to Tokyo for that one.

So considering 154 Charlo is fighting for all the straps & if 160 Charlo gets past his opponent, Charlo vs Andrade seems logical. It ain’t happening, no matter how much Chris Mannix wants it to.

I just picture it being weird at the cookout for one to be fully unified MAYBE & the other leaving an obvious unification on the table… I don’t put it past Mel to lord it over his twin in front of company, but hey, if he earns undisputed status vs. Castano, he’s paid the cost to be the boss.

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Is Tank Davis avoiding the big fights at 135 by taking on Mario Barrios at 140? Photo by Esther Lin/SHOWTIME


Davis fighting at 140 seems (in my mind) to be a guy who can’t make 130 but is waiting for Teofimo’s inevitable move to 140 so that he can immediately pursue the lightweight titles. I don’t think I’m hating. You’re not. The problem with 17 weight classes, previous day weigh-ins, and a plethora of “world” title belts is that it’s removed a lot of the significance from moving up in weight (a feat that was once badge of honor among special talents); these days “division-hopping” is often a means of avoiding challenges. Having said that, I am intrigued by the Davis-Barrios matchup, but I don’t view it as a “world title bout.”



BEN DAVISON

What’s up Doug hope you’re well,

Only recently found out Ben Davison now trains Haney, which begs the question: What has Davison done as a trainer to warrant big name fighters trusting him? I’m not hating by any stretch I just mean, Fury and Taylor were both undefeated, developed, proven world champions when he took them on.

I think Devin maybe should’ve went to a trainer who can work on his punching power (as it’s the only knock on the young man) like Derrick James who done great work bringing up Jermell Charlo’s power or SugarHill perhaps.

Can Haney beat any of the top lightweights or does his lack of pop hold him back?

Donaire done a B-hop. What a performance!

Gary Antuanne Russell looks the goods hopefully he stays busier than his big bro.

All the best. – David, Dublin

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Gary Antuanne Russell was too much for Jovanie Santiago. Photo by Esther Lin / SHOWTIME


Gary Antuanne looked sharp taking apart Jovanie Santiago. I think he’s ready to transition from being a prospect to a legit contender. He’s got his older brother’s form, speed and timing, plus a little more aggressiveness (and extra points for the Afro), which suggests that he can make some noise at 140 pounds. Of course, to do that he will have to stay busy. He fought five times in 2019, but only once last year (which was understandable given the pandemic). Hopefully he can fight at least twice more this year.

Only recently found out Ben Davison now trains Haney, which begs the question: What has Davison done as a trainer to warrant big name fighters trusting him? Prepare two previously overlooked/underrated UK standouts for major fights vs. world-class talent that catapulted them to the top of their divisions (Tyson Fury back from the brink and then the first showdown with Deontay Wilder; Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez for all the marbles at 140).

I’m not hating by any stretch I just mean Fury and Taylor were both undefeated, developed, proven world champions when he took them on. Well, Fury was a former champ, unless you count the lineal status, and he was totally out of shape. Davison helped Fury find his way back to the ring and then trained him for Wilder opportunity, which most fans and media (myself included) thought would end with Fury getting sparked. And yeah, Taylor was already unified Ring champ, but Davison came up with a good game plan for the Ramirez fight. Haney is based in Las Vegas, where Fury has been training, and where Taylor finished his camp for Ramirez, so I’m sure he had heard good things about Davison – maybe directly from those fighters. Maybe he and his father got a chance to watch how Davison works with his fighters and were impressed.

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Ben Davison no longer trains Tyson Fury, but his work with the heavyweight king attracted the attention of other world class fighters. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)


I think Devin maybe should’ve went to a trainer who can work on his punching power (as it’s the only knock on the young man) like Derrick James who done great work bringing up Jermell Charlo’s power or SugarHill perhaps. That’s one way to look at it, but another perspective is for Haney to embrace his strengths and short comings, as well as his ring identity (which I think is that of a technician/ring general), and hook up with a trainer who will help enhance his style while making him the most complete fighter he can be. Do you think Pernell Whitaker worried about not getting enough knockouts on his way up the lightweight ladder and sought to dump George Benton for a more offense-minded trainer? When Floyd Mayweather Jr. was trained by his father, he was nearly untouchable. When his Uncle Roger, who liked his fighters to sit down on their punches more (as he did as a fighter), was the head coach, Floyd got into more scraps where he was bloodied, buzzed and rocked. Power is a great equalizer in boxing, but it’s not everything.

Can Haney beat any of the top lightweights or does his lack of pop hold him back? I think Haney IS a top lightweight himself and he’s live against any of his peers; given a little more experience and maturity, I think can beat any of them on a good day.
 
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