By Stephen 'Breadman' Edward
The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen 'Breadman' Edwards discussing topics like Terence Crawford vs. Felix Diaz, defensive fighters in the history of boxing, Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin, Kell Brook vs. Errol Spence, Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev, and more.
Whats up Bread, you imo have the best insight about boxing today so just wanted to get your thoughts about defensive fighters. Willie Pep, Niccolino Loche, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Pernell Whittaker - could you please break down who had the best & most effective defense out of these fighters and who had the best defense ever?
Bread’s Response: Great question. The best defensive fighter is the fighter who gets hit the less and hits his opponent the most. Some people confuse freakish reflexes with the best defense. For example Wilfred Benitez has most likely the greatest defensive eyes God ever made. If you are playing a game at a carnival and the trick was to see if you could land a clean punch on someone with their hands down. Benitez would probably be better than any fighter ever at making people miss. But guys like Andre Ward and Marlon Starling don’t have his reflexes but they use timing, positioning and smarts and their defenses are just as good.
But I will stick with fighters you named. Loche had reflex trick defense like Benitez. He was a freak who could see punches and avoid them with God given reflexes. He was also short so when he was in defensive mode his opponent’s didn’t have much to hit.
Loche was no clown though. You don’t rumble Carlos Ortiz and Antonio Cervantes tooth and nail and not be special. If Loche were fighting today he wouldn’t translate. A crowd couldn’t take how he fought. Even back in his day he was penalized. He had 14 draws which is absurd. Loche had unreal upper body movement, insane confidence and a great chin when he needed it. He was stopped only once by a cut. Out of the 4 you named I would rank him 4.
Floyd Mayweather has a great all around defense. He can use his legs, reflexes, positioning and feints to defend. Loche didn’t have the legs, positioning or threat of offense that Floyd had. I would rank Floyd 3rd on your list.
Pernell Whitaker was as good in a small spaces as anyone I have ever seen. His reflexes were unreal. He also had threat defense. Because his jab and counter left hand were nasty. Some defensive guys only slip or only catch. Whitaker slipped, caught and rolled and stepped around with his defense. And despite the myth he wasn’t a runner. The only flaw in Whitaker’s defense in my opinion was he played too much at times and often times he fell in love with his D. In certain fights Whitaker stayed on Defense so long he became infatuated with himself and it cost him. I believe Floyd’s peak lasted longer but Whitaker’s peak was higher as far as pure defense. So I rate him 2.
Willie Pep in my opinion has the best defense on the list. Pep had arguable the best feet in boxing. Feet are a lost art in this era. But Pep’s foot feint was incredible. He also had the reflexes, instincts and jab to control just about everyone he fought in his first 160 fights. If everyone is the same size and I want to bet my money on a man to take the least amount of punishment vs an offensive fighter. Pep would be the guy I bet on.
As far as who has the best defense ever I think it has to be broken down in 2 categories. One for attacking fighters and the other for defensive fighters. Here is why. An attacking fighter is throwing more punches and causing more concussions. He has to incorporate defense while he’s leaving himself vulnerable because he’s punching. It’s easier to just play defense and not be offensive. But it’s much harder when you are throwing 60 or more punches/round. So whenever someone tells me a fighter gets hit too much. I always ask for what style. For example a prime Mike Tyson and prime Chavez Sr. had great defenses for their styles but it may go unnoticed because of how they attacked.
So for defensive fighters I would say Willie Pep. It’s hard to argue Pep. I give him the edge over Mayweather and Whitaker simply because he fought so many more fights. Fighting 200 fights and fighting 50 fights are just different. Pep’s defense was real in a time were fights were just harder.
For attacking fighters the best defensive fighter ever is Roberto Duran. Watch the 70’s version of Duran. Watch him vs Carlos Palomino. Watch him vs Hector Thomspon. Duran could slip, catch, roll, step off, parry and smother. His defense was as good as it gets for a fighter who was trying to kill you and at the same time being defensively responsible.
I wanted to write about the GGG and Canelo fight. Most people think it is close to 50/50 because of what Canelo did to JCC. I think that fight has me more convinced that GGG is going to bust up Canelo. JCC Jr looked drain and had zero defense and Canelo didn't have the power at the higher weight class to hurt him seriously or have him close to being knocked out. GGG has a great chin and if he can't keep GGG off of him he's in for a brutal night. I am going on record to say GGG takes him out in the 9th.
Bread’s Response: This is a tough fight to call for me. I think the “timing” of the fight favors Canelo. But I think GGG at his very best wins. I don’t know where GGG is… I don’t think he’s damaged or anything. But he may not be riding as high as he was circa Matthew Macklin. People act like he let Danny Jacobs stay in the fight. That’s not true. Jacobs was just a lot for him to handle.
The Chavez performance was no biggie to me. It gave Canelo a chance to move a big guy around. But Chavez is what he is. I don’t want to kick Chavez while he’s down. I really like him, he gives great quotes and I feel bad that he’s a Jr to the greatest Mexican fighter ever. But I studied Chavez years ago. I watched his fight with Luciano Cuello around 5 times. Chavez barely won that fight and if his name is not Chavez he probably loses it. A prominent matchmaker told me don’t fret Cuello because anybody that loses to Chavez should be no problem for an elite fighter.
The public has been waiting for Chavez to turn the corner. But the truth is he struggled in all of his elite level fights except the Andy Lee fight. I still don’t get what happened in that fight, because Lee can fight. But every other fight at the top level Chavez has struggled to a decision or he lost. He had to fight Bryan Vera twice at a catchweight to convincingly beat him.
Canelo is one of the 10 best fighters on the planet. Dominating Chavez is what every fighter of that ilk would do. The reason why this fight has closed in for me is because of history. The aging steady fighter who is not overwhelming athletically takes on the faster, younger, high riding fighter in his prime and he struggles. Bernard Hopkins loses twice to Jermaine Taylor. Say what you want about Taylor but he was tit for tat with the better Hopkins for 24 straight rounds. Antonio Cervantes vs Aaron Pryor. Genaro Hernandez vs Floyd Mayweather. Dwight Qawi vs Evander Holyfield. I can literally name 50 fights where a technically sound technician took on a young snappy kid and got beat. Heck Chavez Sr vs Oscar De La Hoya fits the exact bill.
I don’t think Canelo is the puncher he’s marketed as. He can crack but he’s not Julian Jackson. He’s a hard fast judge friendly puncher. He has snappy power. But His technique and speed are better than his actual power. If he catches GGG clean anything can happen but his power is not what concerns me for GGG. His ability to beat GGG to the punch and make him miss and pay is what should be concerning. He doesn’t have to ko GGG. All he has to do is win 7 out of 12 rounds.
Hey Breadman it's Johnny here and I have been a fan of your mailbag for a long time here on boxingsceen & I have a question for you.. Aaron Pryor was in the era of greats like "Sugar" Ray Leonard, Thomas "Hitman" Hearns, "Marvellous" Marvin Haggler, ROBERT "Hands of Stone" Duran, & I know I'm missing other greats. Given those guys fought @ Middle weight they did come up through the lighter divisions.. Why didn't anyone fight Aaron Pryor other than the great Alexis Arguello? He was one of the best jr welterweights to go down in history so I'm just so surprised he did not mix in with the other greats..?? Was he just avoided at that time/era? Please tell me what you think happened there? Thoughts?
Bread’s Response: The myth has it that Pryor was avoided by the big 4. But the reality he was just in the wrong weight class and his prime was cut too short. Just look at the time line. Pryor got a title shot in Aug of 1980 at 140lbs. his 1st title shot. That same day Thomas Hearns won the welterweight title.
By 1981 Hearns was fighting middleweight after his loss to Ray Leonard and he settled at 154 to fight Benitez in 1982 for the title. Hearns and Pryor were just too far apart in weight and Hearns was taking on equally tough fighters at much higher weights.
Ray Leonard. Ray Leonard offered the fight to Pryor in 1981 right before Pryor fought Lennox Blackmore as a tune up for before Hearns and after he fought Duran twice. Pryor turned the fight down. He said it wasn’t enough money. It’s on youtube where Pryor admits this just youtube the Lennox Blackmore fight. Leonard offered him the fight again in 1982 but he was diagnosed with a detached retina and he retired. Leonard didn’t fight again until 1984.
Roberto Duran had ties to Panama Lewis. Lewis was Pryor’s trainer for a short time. The story is they almost fought. But let’s remember Duran vacated his title at 135 after defeating Estaban Dejesus. He moved up to 147 and took a handful of non title fights to let the weight come on properly. He fought Leonard on June 1980 at 147. Pryor was just a very good prospect at the time. It’s not like Duran skipped over 140 to avoid Pryor. He had vacated his title at 135 long before Pryor was a threat in 1978. Duran only defended his welterweight title once and that was a lost to Ray Leonard. Duran would then become a junior middleweight, middleweight and super middleweight for the rest of his career.
Marvin Hagler was too big and was always a middleweight. He and Pryor was never a viable fight.
Sure Pryor could have fought these guys if someone would have made some concessions. But the reality is he should’ve taken the Ray Leonard fight when it was offered the 1st time. He wasn’t a star at the time and it would have been worth it to take the shot. It was more money than he ever made up until that point. Pryor didn’t get his breakthrough until late 1982. Pryor was guy who was hexed. He never made a run above 140. And by the time he broke through all of the stars were too far away from him in weight. After he broke through he became inactive and he ruined his prime. He had a big fight with Mancini on the horizon but Mancini lost.
Pryor’s real problem was his longevity. If he would have been active in the mid to late 80s, the emergence of Whitaker, Taylor, Camacho, Rosario,Chavez, Bramble and Pazienza would have overlapped his era. But his last big fight was 1983. The rematch with Arguello. After that he fought on but he disappeared from mainstream.
If you think about that time. Chavez was at 130. Whitaker and Taylor were still amateurs waiting for the 1984 Olympics. Camacho was around but he was a 130 pounder. I can go on and on. Pryor was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. And unfortunately for him there were no stars at 140 from 1980-85 except him and Arguello and they fought twice.
I love Aaron Pryor but all of these things can be verified by facts. He never moved to 147 to put himself in the mix. And I don’t blame him he wasn’t a big junior welterweight. But the fans can’t change history and make it seem like everyone ducked him. In fact after Leonard, Hearns, Duran and Benitez moved up and were gone by 1982. A new crop of welters came along spear headed by Donald Curry. Pryor never fought those guys either…… If Thurman and Spence turn out to be HOF fighters. And Terence Crawford never moves up. And then fans 30 years later claim Spence and Thurman ducked Crawford would it be accurate.
When I heard De La Hoya say that Alvarez v Golovkin is the biggest fight in boxing history, I just had to laugh.
I've also heard a few boxing fans say that Canelo is a bigger star than Joshua. I disagree...Alvarez has never had a 1 million+ PPV outside of when he fought Mayweather. If you do the math, Joshua v. Vlad did 1.5 million buys in the UK, which is the equivalent of doing well over 2 million buys in North America.
And in terms of potential...forget about it. Joshua has the looks, charisma, articulateness, and physical presence to be on a popularity level significantly above Alvarez, plus he fights in boxing's historic glamour division. What say you?
Bread’s Response: Canelo vs GGG is not the biggest fight in history but it’s a huge Super Fight. In terms of Super Fights is on the lines of Oscar vs Shane. Huge fight. Great fighters but not exactly Mayweather vs Pacquiao.
Alvarez and Joshua are the two biggest stars in boxing. I don’t like to compare them because the markets are different. Carl Froch and George Groves sold out a huge arena and neither of those guys are what you call Super Stars. The Uk market is just nuts.
Joshua has the potential to be the star of stars. But at 19-0 and just breaking through if he gets clipped in his next 2 fights. He’s Michael Grant’s son. Feel me, Boxing is funny.
Canelo has been on top longer. So let’s just let both of them do their thing before the comparisons start. Joshua is still new to the level you are talking about. But I do agree his potential is enormous.
Dear Mr Breadman,
Please don't be right about Canelo outpointing GGG. You're always right and I'd like you to be wrong this one time. I don't like red headed Mexicans at all. I like tall, dark, and handsome Philadelphia boxing trainers.
Bread’s Response: Thanks young lady you have good taste.
I’m going to reserve my prediction of GGG vs Canelo until it gets closer to the fight. But I just get the feeling they are catching GGG at the right time. I also know it’s hard to win a decision vs Canelo. Very hard. He has received the benefit of doubt in every single round of his career. Because he will hit GGG it’s hard for me to believe he won’t get the benefit of the doubt again.
Does Diaz have a chance vs Crawford? Walsh vs Davis? Brook vs Spence? Ward vs Kovalev?
Bread’s response: Felix Diaz is a gold medalist. A Gold Medalist shouldn’t be over his head vs anyone. But Crawford is the real deal. I think Diaz will have some spots. But Crawford seems indefatigable. I think Crawford stops him late or pulls away late and cruises to a UD.
A very good trainer the other day told me Walsh is going to beat Davis. I had not seen much of Walsh. So I went to go study him. And I must say I was impressed. Walsh has a very active body. He doesn’t just sit there and let himself get pounced. Pedraza fought a terrible fight vs Davis and it played into his hands, it doesn’t appear that Walsh will do that. I am very big on Gervonta Davis. I believe he’s a real puncher and I believe his athleticism is next level. But he is a little flat footed and I don’t know how well he can cut the ring off. This Walsh kid has a good sense of distance. He’s not slow. He’s active. And he is very good at switch hitting. Man this is not an easy fight for Davis. They say Walsh may be a little chinny and he will have to be. Davis is in a real fight. If Davis wins this one the sky is the limit. This fight could look like Malignaggi vs Broner.
Spence is an athletic overwhelmer, very similar to Tito Trinidad, Michael Moorer and Shane Mosley in their primes. I don’t know what kind of career he’s going to have and anything can happen in a fight. But from what I see he should be too much for Brook down the stretch. Spence stays in punching position better than anyone in boxing. You can hit him. He doesn’t have freaky reflexes. But once he gets cooking he puts you on the defensive in a way where it looks like you’re fighting to get him off of you instead of fighting to win. Brook is very strong. He has a great jab and good variety to his right hand. If he can slow down this fight and get it into a picking match he can win. But Carson Jones, Shawn Porter and GGG were are able to force a quick pace on him. I suspect Spence will do the same. I like Spence in the Fight of the Year shootout where he possibly goes down early but presses on.
I just watched Kovalev train. And I may be reading too much into this but he always seems like he’s training himself. When I see a fighter like that I wonder what type of gameplan he will use because he doesn’t have anyone to confer with. When you see this you see a guy who fights with no purpose. I don’t know this to be the case but from what I see the Krusher looks alone.
Ward on the other hand has a great support system and I’m sure they have a good gameplan. This will count for a lot in what is basically an even fight in terms of ability. I still don’t know who won the last one. In my opinion I think Ward can improve more from the last fight. Kovalev can do some things better like go to the body and find way to land his right hand more consistently but Ward has much more room for improvement.
I think Kovalev has to get off to great start to be in the fight. If he doesn’t he’s going to lose badly and we could see a No Mas type of fight. No way Kovalev could overcome the bad start that Ward overcame. If Krusher does get going early I see Ward clawing and scratching to keep it close like he did in the last one. Either way I see Ward winning. To be safe I say a clean 115-113 for Andre Ward.
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