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Daily Bread Mailbag: Ward-Kovalev, Lomachenko, Froch-Calzaghe

By Stephen "Breadman" Edwards

The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen "Breadman" Edwards discusses several questions regarding Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev, the legacy battle between Carl Froch and Joe Calzaghe, and more.

Who do you like in the Ward vs Kovalev rematch? Your last prediction was exact. I was surprised you thought Ward would get knocked down because I know how high you are on him. And just like you said he would get up and win a controversial decision. Who has the advantage in this one? Does Ward dominate Kessler style this time?

Bread’s Response: I am picking Andre Ward to win the rematch 115-113. I think this fight will look like Mayweather vs Castillo 2. Close, competitive but clean without controversy.

I think the advantage in immediate rematches goes to the fighter who did NOT fight far over their head in the first fight. Lots’ of things have to line up in order for you to be lights out better than you ever were before. For example Marcos Maidana vs Mayweather. Maidana was better than he ever was before vs Floyd in their 1st fight. But in the 2nd fight look at his punch count. His intensity. His overall application to winning. It was good but not the same as the 1st fight. Where as Floyd is always at that “place” so he took the decision easier.

Now if you look at Kovalev vs Ward. Neither guy was what you call lights out. But I think Ward has more room for improvement. I think Kovalev was at least lights out early in the fight. When Ward won rounds it was because of tenacity and grit and just being a straight dog. I think Ward can and will show more skill in the 2nd fight.

You ask me will Kovalev get dominated. I don’t believe he will be dominated but I believe he will lose 7 rounds to 5. Throughout history rarely has a fighter been completely dominated over extended rounds if that fighter had a great jab, power and could box. Think about what I just said. Fighters who have those 3 qualities have rarely been dominated over extended rounds. Anyone can be clipped early but it’s hard to comprehensively dominate fighters like that. Kovalev has that so he should win his share of rounds. Kessler had those 3 qualities also but Ward’s style is different at this moment.

Ward’s style has evolved to an efficient in the box defensive fighter. Fighters who stay in the box, even exceptional defensive fighters will get hit. It’s the law of averages. Jose Napoles, James Toney and Roberto Duran all settled in the box at certain points of their careers and they were brilliant but they got hit. Ward is at that point in his career. He’s not the kid who fought on his toes and twisted and turned and pot shotted Edison Miranda and Mikel Kessler all night.

The difference in Ward and the 3 HOF guys I named is his offensive variety. Duran, Napoles and Toney are offensive savants. They threw every punch in the book and they scored lots of brutal kos at the top level. Ward relies on an all time great jab, body punches and ring IQ. So therefore it will be harder to dominate a fighter of Kovalev’s caliber with his current offensive toolbox and volume. According to punch stats Ward threw a total of 337 punches. Which is about 28 punches/round. I know punch stats can be inaccurate…….But if those stats are close to being true Kovalev’s ability to match Ward’s best weapon, his jab will keep things close. Things were extremely close in the first fight…..

I’m not a big stat guy but in this case I think it has bearing. For example if you throw 28 punches/round even if you land 50% of your shots, you can’t give much back defensively because you’re landing 14 punches/round. And it’s extremely difficult to land 50% of your punches vs an elite fighter. So 50% is most likely best case scenario. Ward is good enough to get the job done without having to be a volume guy. But I think he will raise his output to about 35-40 punches/in this fight.  What’s interesting is in Ward’s breakout performance vs Kessler. He threw 667 punches total and that fight was stopped mid way through the 11th. That’s a total of 60 punches/round. Kessler could not win a round against him in my opinion. Again punch stats can be inaccurate but naked eye tells me that Ward had much higher activity vs Kessler than he had vs Kovalev.

A big advantage I say for Ward is Kovalev’s demeanor. Kovalev is very irritable and agitated. He’s more than just angered. This does not mix well for late round success in a boxing ring. It’s hard to stay mad in a boxing ring. The key is to be focused and intense. Not mad and irritable. Ward has a way about him where he doesn’t trash talk but he knows how to get under his opponent’s skin. He quietly lets them know he’s in control of all things relevant. All of his opponents keep falling for the same thing. Kovalev has fell for it. He’s angry with Andre. It will cost him.  Anger and impatience usually does not translate to late round success. Remember Ward was the better fighter down the stretch in the 1st fight.

I think the fight will start off intense with a battle of jabs. I think Kovalev’s power will still be respected but not feared. Ward has tasted it. He didn’t get knocked out. I think Ward will be careful and smart but no way will he start as slow as he did in the 1st fight. I’m interested to see how long it will take Ward to take the fight to the inside. That’s something I can’t figure out because Ward had his best success inside but Ward is so smart he knows inside fighting vs a fighter like Kovalev is something you can’t force because of how dangerous he is when he’s not fatigued. As the fight wears on I think Ward’s superior mental stamina will pull him slightly out in front of Kovalev. He will just be sharper and more composed in those pertinent moments. I also think Ward has more trust in his corner. Abel Sanchez’s statements about Kovalev not listening have always stuck in the back of my mind. Again I like Ward 115-113.

ward-kovalev-oakland (4)

You once said Virgil Hunter is one of the best coaches in boxing. I honestly didn’t believe you because he has only produced Andre Ward. But for some reason so many top fighters gravitate to him and his gym. It’s amazing. He seems to be a master of mind games and I think he’s in Kovalev’s head. I still don’t know if he’s one of the best but he sure knows how to handle a podium. He killed it at the press conference.

Bread’s Response: Here is the thing. We are in the era where we won’t have 1 coach who has 30 champions. That’s over and done with. The infrastructure is different now. On top of that I always say I don’t want to hear how many champions a coach has worked with. I want to hear how many times the coach was in the corner with the champion when they won the championship fight. Stats can be misleading with that.

Hunter is without a doubt one of the best coaches in the world. In fact if you have a tall fighter, with a defensive mindset I think he’s the best coach in the world. Sort of like the great Manny Steward was if you gave him a tall fighter with an offensive mindset.

It amazing that so many fighters gravitate to his gym. What’s even more amazing is that these fighters usually stay with him even after losses or not so great performances. That tells you they really believe in him.

In the case of Ward vs Kovalev. I think Ward believes in Hunter more than Kovalev believes in Jackson. That will be huge in this fight in my opinion.

Hi bread, i was wondering how you compare fighters from different eras? Do you factor in that they would be better if fighting today due to better training or not? Thanks

Bread’s Response: Good question. Yes I do factor in “when” a fighter fought. I also factor in activity and competition of era. Then I factor in the most important variable that is what they did in their actual era.

It was common for fighters before the 1970s to not have glossy records. It was common to have multiple losses before you won or got a title shot. That’s why fighters who had glossy records like Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Willie Pep, Sugar Ray Robinson, Marcel Cerdan, Sonny Liston, Eder Jofre, Roberto Duran and Muhammad Ali really stand out in those eras. Because their primes consisted of only 1 or 2 losses at the most in eras where it wasn’t common.

For example Robinson going 128-1-2 from 1940 to 1951 is just absurd when you think about it. The losses and draw were avenged. So in a time scale you have to factor Robinson would only fight about 40% of the fights he fought in that time and that’s being generous. He would get to recover better with nutrition. Weigh in a day before. Cherry pick opponents coming up because of youtube and boxrec. And the gloves are bigger today. Oh and did I mention he was fighting full blown middleweights in non title bouts as a welterweight.

To think about it in todays’ terms. Lomachenko has a valid excuse to lose to Salido because Salido came in over 2lbs heavy. Robinson lost a decision to an all time great middleweight in Lamotta who was 17lbs heavier!

So yes I factor in everything. And not to crap on the modern fighters. I think they have a disadvantage because of less activity. So while more preserved and more physical they have less skill and technique. You get better at doing something by doing it. I think it’s a shame that fighters in this era rarely improve after they win the title because they start fighting once or twice a year at the most. When they were prospects they fought 3-6 times a year. It’s a huge difference.

I factor in everything and I try to be objective. I don’t believe present day is an Golden Era but there are special fighters in this era who could have competed in any era and against anybody. Mayweather, Pacquaio, Ward, Rigondeaux, Lomachenko, Kovalev and GGG would be stand out fighters in any era. They may not all be dominant champions but they would be top fighters.

Loma-Sosa

Given Loma's performance against Salido, I thought Sosa's pressure would give him some trouble occasionally. Anyway, the way Loma is performing is simply ridiculous. Ward, Golovkin, Mikey, Gonzalez, Crawford are 'elite' and 'special' fighters, but what would be the adjective for Loma? He is performing at the level of Roy Jones (prior to Tarver). As Max said at the time something like 'a loss against Roy Jones on your record shouldn't even be taken into account ' because "You fight Roy Jones, you lose". The same goes for Loma @ 126 and 130 (I believe Loma can still make 126 without too much trouble). I hope Mikey stays at 135 for another 2-3 fights; the winner of Mikey and Loma will be head and shoulders above anyone as the PFP king.

What style(s) do you think would have success against him? What flaw (however minor it is) do you see in him? The only thing I noticed that in the last round Sosa caught him with a couple of right hands countering his jab which seemed to briefly stun him (did you notice that?).

Oh, another thing about Loma, I haven't heard him say (yet) "if the fight makes financial sense" or "the fight needs to be built up" or "I'm the A side".

Ward-Kovalev I

In one of your mailbags after the fight, you said you haven't sat down with a pencil and paper to score the fight, but you said you WILL... so?

Regards from Mongolia,

Amarbayasgalan.

Bread’s Response: Every fighter gets hit. Considering Loma fights in the box and he’s a volume puncher of course he will be hit. I haven’t seen him hit overly clean and in combination. So his defense is fine.

Recently I have not noticed one flaw. And trust me I have been looking. I won’t say he’s perfect, no man is perfect. But I will see he’s been flawless. At one time I thought he tried to be too perfect and he pulled off of too many shots. I thought he was intoxicated with his own brilliance. Sort of like the great ball handler Jason Williams who played for the Kings a few years back. Williams was always looking for the highlight reel play instead of just making the right play. I believe that was the reason why less physically talented John Stockton and Steve Nash were better players. Loma had this problem about 4 fights ago but not anymore. The dude is simply special.

The Ward vs Kovalev fight was ridiculously hard for me to score. I think there is a case for both guys winning. I also think the consensus narrative is wrong on the fight. Kovalev did not win all of the 1st half of the fight. And Ward didn’t win all of the 2nd half. Ward actually had a really good 3rd round which people don’t notice because of the knockdown in the 2nd round had a carry over affect in which it shouldn’t have. And Kovalev had a really good 10th round that he wasn’t given credit for because Ward had changed the momentum of the fight but you don’t score rounds on momentum. Rounds are individual entities. By the way I hate rescoring fights because the narrative contaminates your judgment. Your true feelings for the most part is the initial shock value of what you saw. When I 1st saw the fight live I honestly couldn’t tell who won.

Stephen

Thanks for your insightful brilliance on these mailbags.   Loved your comments last week on MMA fighters to the body and Floyd by stoppage. 

I am happy that Ward kovalev II got made.   I see Andre Ward as a processor with high Boxing IQ that is up there with floyd's.   As such I favor him in the rematch as he has seen so much of what krusher does and will make those adjustments from round 1.   I believe that cerebral processors like Floyd and Andre Ward always have the leg up in rematches.  What do your eyes see

I think lomachenko skills are as good as anyone in boxing and his footwork is as good as anyone in the last 20 years.  That said I don't think he will beat mikey Garcia and as fast as his hands are I don't see his power carrying to 135 so readily as he rapidly moves up.   Max Kellerman said he will be favored against all fighters except Crawford.    Well if he is a big favorite against Garcia I plan to win some bread that. Night.    What do you think of this potential matchup.

Billy Bomaye

Bread’s Response: I don’t believe Ward will allow Kovalev to start so well this time. Kovalev’s fast start is what the 1st fight controversial. I like Ward by a clean 7-5 instead of a controversial one this time.

Before the Sosa fight I favored Mikey Garcia over Loma pretty solid. After seeing the Sosa performance that’s the 3rd performance in a row where I think Loma has shown visual improvement. If he keeps getting better I don’t know if anyone can beat him.

Now I view it as a 50/50 fight. We will have to see if Mikey can be to Loma what Marquez was to Pacquiao. Where Pacquiao has obvious brilliance, Marquez’s was subtle. Marquez’s power, chin, footwork and technical ability allowed him to hold the superior athlete in Pacquiao even for large portions of their 4 fights. If this happens it’s a super fight!

Hi Bread

Richy Good here from Cork in Ireland, long time reader, first time writing in. I keep sending your articles to my MMA buddies' WhatsApp group, we'll turn em yet Bread! One small observation I'd make before I ask my question is: can we (readers) please spend less time asking about GGG? It feels like a broken record at this point, but I'll admit patience is not a virtue of mine.

My question is: who do you think had a better career, Calzaghe or Froch? I only became a hardcore fan towards the tail end of Calzaghe's career, so I'm definitely biased towards Froch. That being said I would favour Calzaghe to win in a fight.

I'm also curious to know what obscure techniques/tricks you think each fighter used that may have gone under the radar?

Your articles are a high point of my week, thanks Bread!

Bread’s Response: Froch had a tremendous career and his late career runs puts him in the HOF in my opinion. But Calzaghe’s career was better. I think Froch is a great fighter and a HOF. Calzaghe is a great fighter who is teetering on all time status. I think Calazaghe is just below the all time status and no worse than the 3rd or 4th best super middleweight ever.

Calazghe threw punches away just like Loma and Pacquiao does. All of Calzaghe’s punches were not hard but they were designed that way. He used them to blind you and while you were blinded he moved his feet. By the time you refocus on him he’s in another spot. Calzaghe is not as smooth or visually pleasing as Loma but he was just as effective.

Carl Froch had a way of punching into you. His punches looked slow and he ran into you at times. You would think he could be easily defended or countered but he was only beaten cleanly one time in his career vs a great in Andre Ward. He cocked his punches back but he didn’t release them until the right time. Froch was able to hit everybody at some point in the fight. He had uncanny timing on his delivery despite poor technique at times. Froch was no joke. He also had indomitable will.

Hello Bread,

Loma has got to fight somebody! At least Rigo fought Donaire when he was on a roll.

Lomachenko has 400 amateur fights most of the guys he’s fought have much less than that. A good fight for him would be against Tevin Farmer.

I’m still not sold on GGG, good fighter but not great…yet. He should take the money fight with Canelo, then win or lose move up to 168. Jermall Charlo would be a tough fight for GGG, he could possibly get KO’d in that fight. I don’t put GGG in the Hagler boat, Hagler was a vicious, take no prisoners, killer.

Other than Duran, Hagler rose up to the level of his competition and conquered them. I’d liked to have seen Hagler against Iran Barkley, because it’s funny how styles make fights; Hearns crushed Duran, Duran beat Barkley, Barkley beat Hearns, Hagler narrowly beat Duran, Hagler crushed Hearns.

Mythical  matchup: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Evander Holyfield at 175lbs (both are light heavyweights).

Bread’s Response: I have no problem with Loma’s level of competition. He’s fighting the best available fighter. He fought Salido who is the best workhorse along with Glen Johnson of the last 20 years. If Salido does not test positive again and gets one more unexpected victory he could be a HOF. Gary Russell was undefeated and he’s a tremendous talent. Nicholas Walters knocked out he same Nonito Donaire you speak of. And Jason Sosa just kod an undefeated Javier Fortuna. Loma is rumbling tough my friend.

Tevin Farmer would be an excellent match up. Let’s hope Farmer gets a big fight soon.

GGG is just fine. I don’t rate him over Hagler either but on his best day he competes with the best middleweights of the last 25 years and he wins more than he loses.

Hagler would have been past it if he fought Barkely after the Leonard fight. But his brother Robbie Sims kod Barkley if you remember. If Barkley and Hagler had met circa 85-87 Hagler would have chopped him up. Hagler’s pedigree was too high. The 3 guys who could have given the older Hagler some trouble before his retirement were Michael Nunn, Mike McCallum and Sambu Kalambay.

Send Questions & Comments to [email protected]

Tags: boxing image  
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Smosh on 04-15-2017

Good observation bread; the fact that Kov gets angered and irritable. I think thats why he stops listening to the couch. He might have to work on some discipline issues for the 2nd fight

Comment by VatoMulatto on 04-15-2017

I don't always agree with Breedman but I always respect his opinion. His mailbag is always excellent.

Comment by Redd Foxx on 04-15-2017

Surprised me. Excellent read, start to finish.

Comment by aboutfkntime on 04-15-2017

I agree that Ward finished that fight as the better fighter and that he has more room for growth in the rematch

Comment by bluepete on 04-15-2017

I think Herol Graham would've given aging Hagler a real problem too. Certainly over 12.

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