By Stephen "Breadman" Edwards
The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen "Breadman" Edwards tackling topics such as Eleider Alvarez's huge knockout win over Sergey Kovalev, Jermall Charlo being ducked in the middleweight division, Floyd Mayweather digging deep in fights, Mikey Garcia at welterweight, and more.
I watched Kovalev vs Alvarez and couldn't help but think that even though Kovalev was winning on the cards, I didn't care for some of the corner cutting I saw in his technique. I figured that even a puncher with moderate power could create problems if he clips Sergey. Two things stood out to me. Firstly, Kovalev when at his best he is bouncing in and out, stabbing with his straights to the head and body. But here, against Alvarez, he was a bit lazy. He stood in front of him too much. His feet weren't covering the ground that they should have been covering. Secondly, I felt that Kovalev built a really effective boxing game around feinting with his lef to throw the right and vice versa. His punch options aren't terribly diverse, but at his best he can touch anybody. Against Alvarez he wasn't feinting nearly enough. The willingness to not step out of danger and to not feint as much meant that he couldn't afford to fight with his hands low. It was a 12 round fight and even if he was, what, 6-1, he was fighting in a way that was going to backfire. I don't think Alvarez is better but he was better that night (maybe that's all that matters in the end, I think they should match Jack against Alvarez, his tendency to always have close fights won't be as glaring against Alvarez, I feel).
I guess my question is do you think Kovalev was rushing the whole process to get back on track as unified champ? Do fighters get impatient when retreading old ground on their way to the top? I thought he was going to be one of those guys that had a comeback career, but maybe only some guys can do that.
Also, I have a question about Harry Greb. What's the reason people don't rate him higher? He fought all the way up to HW (including against Miske, Brennan, and Gibbons) and was mixing it up with contenders. At LHW he mauled Gene Tunney and Tommy Loughran the former went on to beat Dempsey twice (even though the Long Count was a gift for Tunney) and the latter beat Braddock, Sharkey, and Baer at HW. At MW he beat a whose who: Jack Dillon, Maxie Rosenbloom, Micky Walker, and Tiger Flowers to name just a few.
He never drew the colour line and he fought the last four years of his career blind in his left eye. That means he fought for the LHW title and MW title blind in one eye. In 1925 he fought two dozen times. Half blind. He should be at the top of your gun list. Him and Duran and SRR are top guns all time. Nobody tops them based on amount of fights, willingness to walk into the jaws of the beast without some contractual crutches. And they did this frequently when their opponents were at their absolute deadliest. They also went up in weight, which isn't necessarily a must, but it sure adds to their hardcore personas.
Yet, in spite of the above, nobody talks about this guy. What gives, Bread? I think he runs the table of all MW's. Greb. Everyone should know this guy...
Thanks for your time!
Bread’s Response: I don’t think Kovalev was rushing anything. He was universally recognized as a top 5 P4P fighter before Ward. He lost to the best fighter in the world twice in back to back fights. At least half of the media and fans thought he won the 1st fight and in the 2nd fight he was close on the cards before getting stopped. So he came back and fought two fights vs the level below and he won a title. I think his comeback trail was fine. He’s 35 years old and he’s at least a CONTEMPORARY GREAT fighter. And he was the favorite vs Elieder Alvarez. Kovalev wasn’t rushed or didn’t rush into anything. As you said he just lost to a better man on that night. In this era these guys fight twice a year, you can’t go but so slow with a 35 yr old fighter who is already established.
From a technical aspect Kovalev has always had slight habits that could backfire on him. Just watch the Pascal fight. Besides Andre Ward, Pascal is the one opponent who dangled in the danger zone the longest and hit his pound of flesh. Kovalev is a tremendous fighter and in my opinion he’s a HOF. But after you lose your flaws get magnified. I’ve seen this a million times. Fighters can have flaws and they get overlooked because the result is a WIN. As soon as they lose everyone talks about the flaws.
Kovalev is not a defensive fighter. He doesn’t counter punch, he just covers ground and slides in and out of range. He also fights with his hands by his waist. But he was a murderous puncher, with a great jab and he was in his zone. So no one could beat him except another great fighter in Andre Ward. But after Ward beat him, then other fighters are not scared to challenge Kovalev in his zone anymore. They are willing to go after his flaws. Historically the fighters I respect the most are fighters who lose at the top level and come back and have equal success. Nothing is harder for an elite fighter is losing at the top level and regaining form. Because the future opponents have a different level of HOPE.
Kovalev has always held his hands down. So Andre Ward followed his jab hand back and cracked him with a 1-2. He subsequently stopped him. So what happens now? Elieder Alvarez follows his lazy jab hand back and drops and subsequently stopped him with the same 1-2. That was no coincidence.
The boxing ring is a truth machine. This is coming form someone who feels Kovalev is a HOF but Kovalev kept bad mouthing his ex coach in John David Jackson basically claiming he trained himself on a HOF run. So now he loses without Jackson making the same mistake he did with him in his corner. Fighters who get stopped like Kovalev and came back successful have a different disposition than he does. See Manny Pacquiao and Tommy Hearns, they didn’t blame Freddie Roach and Manny Steward after getting stopped in big fights. His disposition does not allow revolving success at the top level. Every elite opponent will now press him hard, make him fight, take him in deep waters and challenge his jab with fire. All of his flaws will be accentuated. This is the attrition of boxing and I agree with Roy Jones when he was asked was Kovalev done at 35. He may win some more fights but he will lose some also and lose bad.
I disagree that Jack beats Alvarez easy. Alvarez has improved drastically. I saw him fight live on the Stevenson vs Fonfara 1 undercard in May of 2014. He was just a solid guy. Nothing special. Fast forward 4 years, he’s faster, his jab is better, he has more confidence. No one will have an easy time with him after what he just did.
Harry Greb is the most highly regarded fighter ever who is not on film. The RING did a huge article on the best fighters of each decade and their top ever from the start of the RING. Greb was #2 and no one alive has seen him fight!. His resume is because of that. One with common sense can only imagine how good he was by looking at the fighters he defeated while not being a huge puncher and being naturally smaller most times. I think Greb gets his props. He’s universally recognized as top 10 P4P ever. He’s always 1 or 2 at middleweight. He’s top 10 at lightheavyweight. I think that’s more than fair because the historians are basing this one two things. His resume. And then the film of the fighters of he beat and they are analyzing how good he had to be because of that. Stand up for Harry Greb!
Have you seen Kovalev vs Alvarez yet? If so, would you agree, round 7 at around 1:55 time of round, Alvarez just missed with a huge overhand right as Kovalez was backing to ropes and amazingly, Kovalev continued to hold his left hand down around waist (as always)? Would you say Kovalev has defensive flaws that at this point of career, non correctable?
Also, would you agree, if Alvarez/Bivol is made, Bivol in danger, career type damaged?
Thanks again Bread, appreciate your insights!
Bread’s Response: You are correct. I saw it. I actually sat up in my bed. Earlier in the fight if you check my twitter, I tweeted that Kovalev was in a tough one. I could see how bad his head was snapping back while Alvarez was jabbing with him. The key word is jabbing with him. Everyone on the LEVEL will challenge the Krusher now. The rabbits will have guns now.
I won’t say anything is non correctable because it’s about mental application. If Kovalev believes he has a flaw. And he decides to listen to a way to correct the flaw. Then it can be done. The question is will it be done. I say no. Kovalev is a stubborn dude and he likes doing things his way.
I don’t know if Bivol is in career jeopardy danger. It’s boxing. Bivol can fight and so can Alvarez. We overstate a loss in this era. A fighter can come back from a loss. This era is just soft with weak minded people and social media trolls. If Bivol is what they say he is then he can fight Alvarez and hold his own. Let’s have it! He’s a champion. Once you become champion you should be available for all challengers and adaptable to all styles.
What's up Bread, Rod here. I wanted to ask you 2 things: My first is that I followed Floyd his whole career, but I always had with the feeling that he never he really had to go deep in his tool bag and he kind've of cruise controlled through fights besides Hatton, Cotto and Maidana. Although I felt he could've made the latter two fights much easier. I wanna ask what are some fights that Floyd either fought too late like Pacquiao (not at his peak) or some fights that weren't made that he would've had to dig deep in pull out his "A game" as he likes to say a fighter never made him do. My 2nd question is what are some of your all-time fights that were never made or either made too late.
Bread’s Response: Sun Tzu ”What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.” I read Sun Tzu quotes all the time and lots of them apply to Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather had a gift where if he could win rounds against you he would never get greedy. Especially as he moved up in weight. Often times fighters are winning a fight but they will change tactics and make the fight more difficult. Floyd will keep doing the same thing until he stopped you at 130 or got a UD at 147.
But I think his disposition and stamina made fights look easy. Fights aren’t easy at the top level. But great fighters can make them look that way. The preparation and application is not easy and only a special fighter like Floyd can make it look like that.
Out of the fighters you named I agree but I also think Castillo pushed him and took him out of his comfort zone.
The one knock on Floyd is that he didn’t fight certain fighters at their peaks. It’s tough because trainers and managers always look for advantages and Floyd got his advantages. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it’s just what happened. History holds it against Floyd ….. I think the Pacquiao of 2009-10 would have pushed him to the limits. Pac’s performances during that time was one of the best runs in the history of boxing. I know about the PED rumors but you asked me who would have pushed him and those rumors were never substantiated. We missed one of the greatest match ups in history bro. A clear winner puts the winner in top 10 P4P ever. What a shame.
I also think a prime Oscar and prime Mosley would have pushed him.
Other than those 3 super stars, I think Stevie Johnston, Joel Casamayor, Paul Williams, Kostya Tszyu and Antonio Margarito would have been very intriguing fights. You just never know how a fight will go until you see two guys in the ring. And Floyd had a way of raising his game and making guys look average. But I have a hunch those fights would have been tough. You asked about primes. And no one in history has an easy time with multiple elite level talents in their prime.
For example if we consider who was Floyd’s best opponents that were still in their primes. Not who the best were but best he fought in their primes. I would say Diego Corrales in which he handled him. Jose Luis Castillo who gave him all he wanted. And Marcos Maidana who also gave him hell. It’s no coincidence that the only rematches he ever fought were against Castillo and Maidana.
In history if you fight enough elite level guys in their primes things will get tough on you. Leonard fought Duran, Hearns and Benitez in their primes. He lost to Duran, lost an eye vs Hearns and was dehydrated vs Benitez. Ali fought Frazier, Norton, Holmes and Foreman in their primes. He lost to Frazier, Norton and Holmes. I can go on and on throughout history. I don’t care how great you are if you fight elite level fighters “in their primes” you will have tough nights. Just ask Chocolatito if you don’t believe me.
All time fights that were never made or made too late. I say Sugar Ray Robinson vs Charley Burley. I don’t think Robinson ducked him like the myth says but it would give us some clarity on Burley.
Ray Leonard vs Aaron Pryor. See same statement above.
Floyd vs Manny in 2010.
Bowe vs Lewis.
Sanchez vs Pedroza.
Trinidad vs Mosley.
Hearns vs McCallum
Jones vs Michalchewski and Benn
Whitaker vs Camacho
Holyfield vs Tyson in 91
Monzon vs Hagler in 77
Tapia vs Johnson
1) Nice win by Mikey Garcia last weekend. No doubting his skill level and toughness but how do you see his frame holding the extra pounds up at 147 against the big guys?
2) I may be wrong but I think Crawford and Pacquiao will fight before Christmas. Pacquiao has a belt, he got a kill in his last fight and they have ESPN in common. Your thoughts?
Bread’s Response: I don’t know I haven’t seen Mikey at 147. But Mikey is not body beautiful and I’m glad he’s not. Too many fighters think obvious muscles mean so much. Mikey is not cut up but he’s a powerful man. Let’s see how he fares at 147. I think he beats 90% of the guys at 147 right now. I would favor him to beat everyone except Spence or Crawford and I think he’s even with Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter.
I think Crawford will fight Jose Benavidez or Mean Machine. They would have to pay Pacman some huge money to fight Crawford. I suspect he would ask for 20 million.
Been busy, but still reading and watching boxing. This GGG Canelo thing, wow! Some pics Canelo looks similar, and some pics he looks like he is off the sauce. This day in age with photo shop, just too hard to tell. Live weigh ins will tell. I’m sure if Canelo looks small they will say its for stamina so he can fight a winnable fight to be light on the feet to deal with GGG pressure. That would be bull shit. I’ll wait for the weigh ins to go into more detail.
Hope your doing well. I saw J Rock might be fighting soon. Fingers crossed he gets paid and a W. But how the fuck does Mungia cut 35lbs and still fight volume? I think Margarito also was on some EPO or some shit, he cut huge weight and threw so many hard punches. I have a feeling he did more than use loaded wraps. Winky Wright is another guy who seemed to cut a huge amount of weight, but his cover up defense and lack of offense eluded to this.
Is Usyk naturally right handed? When he throws the left hand its not pretty. Looks like it’s a manufactured punch. Your thoughts?
Bread’s Response: Lots of people have been “off the record” talking about Canelo’s knee brace and physique. I am curious also. He doesn’t seem as vascular or mumped up but his shirts have been on so it is hard to tell. I haven’t spoken on it because of that. We will see. What’s ironic is I think Canelo still has a good shot to win because of his skill level and being already in their with GGG. I also think Canelo will go for GGG early and try for the ko.
Interesting you think Winky Wright may have been on PEDS. I never heard that one before. I don’t have a comment because I never thought about it.
Margarito….I was a big Margarito fan. I always loved his stamina, chin and volume. I think he would have been a nightmare for anyone in the mid 2000s. Oscar avoided Margarito and gave Pacquiao a shot. How crazy is that in retrospect? I won’t give Margarito a PED claim but who knows what one will do for an edge. I have heard different versions of the knuckle guard scandal. My personal opinion is he had loaded wraps. The two questions I don’t have a definitive answer to are, were the knuckle guards made out of something that would have damaged Cotto like it did and did Margarito know. From a legal point of view it can’t be proven. But from a common sense point of view it’s obvious the knuckle pads were used before, we just don’t know who they were used on and who used them.
I’m a big person on KARMA. And Margarito never won another significant fight after the knuckle pads were detected before the Mosley fight. That’s some real comeuppance. But in fairness he was walking Cotto down in the 2nd fight also and he never had plaster in his chin. It’s an enigma. But any cheating speculation of Margarito is warranted because of what he was involved in. And most times a person is caught doing something they are trying to get away with they deny, deny, deny.
Usyk does not throw his power punches with Joe Louis type of ummmpf. And he doesn’t look good practicing on the pads. But boy can he fight. I don’t know if he’s naturally right handed but I will observe him closer. I know Loma is but his dad turned him southpaw as a kid so he can have his dominant hand out in front. They come from the same amateur system so it’s possible. Good observation I will research Usyk…
Thanks for putting people on to Jarron Ennis. It goes to show that more grass-roots word of mouth promoting can work as me and a group of my friends were all able to see his coming out party with anticipation of what we may see in the future. I always watch shobox because I love the matchups but this gave me more of a reason to tune in and focus on what I saw. Before the fights I watched some videos of him and noticed an upward change with every year I saw and I think he finally put together a great style to fit him. He would try certain things as an amateur and look a little lost at times but I think he has nailed down a really solid pro style that can be very beneficial. While watching his development through videos I would see him with every changing fight slowly eliminate and learn from those "lost" moments he had which shows me not only does he have the talent but he has the mentality and intelligence to learn from mistakes. Looking forward to his future now as well.
What happened to Joseph Parker? I wrote in before the Joshua fight and criticized you for not having the fight closer than your prediction. I followed him since the Botha fight and though I saw him getting close to hitting a ceiling I thought where he was at would trouble almost all the heavyweights excluding a prime Tyson Fury. He turned into a skiddish mid to outside fighter who seems to be scared to exchange. His speed is maximized on his front foot and he had some very fast hands and above average power especially when working to get inside. Why does he suddenly change from trying to improve getting inside on better fighters to maximize his speed advantage and strong chin to staying at the outside and boxing in a way where he slows himself down and takes away all of his advantages?
I have read almost every mailbag you've ever put out but it still is hard to remember everything so if you've been asked before, I apologize. Who do you think are the 5 most UNDERRATED inside fighters of all time? Some fighters from the past get their careers defined by styles and newer fans or fighters know the names but don't understand their all around game as well. For example I have a slick southpaw fighter I'm training to be better on the inside and a person I study and have him study is Pernell Whitaker. The kid is one who enjoys fighters of the past and knows Pernell so he couldn't believe we were doing a film study on inside work from him until he saw his punch selection, body positioning and shoulder movement to create angles I was trying to explain to him.
Bread’s Response: Ennis is really, really good. It would take a drastic stagnation of his development for him not to be a world champion. He’s a gym rat, he’s talented, and most of all he’s very coachable. I hear him in the gym showing his coaches respect and answering them in a positive way. So many fighters don’t take redirection well for various reasons. The fighters who improve beyond their physical peaks have high a mental capacity. Whenever you see a fighter just stop getting better it’s usually a lack of the mental aspect. You will only run a mile so fast. You can only swim but so many laps. You can only jump and push so much. But when you can’t retain skills, moves and scenarios it causes you to stop improving. It’s mental not physical. If you think you know everything how can you gain more knowledge? Ennis is an uber talent. But he’s such a good kid who believes he can still learn more, I have a hunch that he will be able to compete with Crawford and Spence in 18 months. I think he just needs to get stronger and get the proper matchmaking.
Joseph Parker struggled in a few fights before he won the title. Then he struggled vs Andy Ruiz. Some fighters get better after a “funny” performance. See Holyfield vs Bobby Czyz. Then see him vs Mike Tyson. But Parker has hit a block. I know some will blame the trainer. But I’m not in the gym with him so I can’t call that. I just know when Parker was hot and undefeated and on the cover of RING Magazine as the division’s dark horse, no one was blaming the trainer. The reason I suspect Ennis will get better is the reason Parker hasn’t. When a fighter does not have that quick, responsive mind, it’s hard to get better. You can see Parker has the physical tools. But I see a fighter who does not want to get tired or hurt. He doesn’t have ferocious instincts. If you’re going to fight the way Parker has recently you better have Roy Jones and Muhammad Ali’s god given talent. He fights in a way where he tries to conserve energy and it doesn’t even matter if he loses rounds. Losing to Anthony Joshua is no big deal. It’s how he fought that bothers me. He shouldn’t have lost to Dillian Whyte. Parker seems like a nice young man but if he doesn’t get his mental on point he’s in BIG trouble.
You named one underrated body puncher. Pernell Whitaker was fantastic on the inside. His inside game was great. He even outfought Chavez on the inside in big spots. Some fighters get known for certain things or get credit for things because of the reputations or physiques but no one takes the time to watch them work. Whitaker has one of the best inside games I have ever seen. The 4 others I would say are Andre Ward, Eusabio Pedroza, Floyd Mayweather and Alexis Arguello.
What is happening in the middleweight division this fall is really something spectacular that deserves much more attention. We basically got 6 of the 7-8 best fighters in the division fighting eachother in a timeperiod of two months. GGG vs Canelo, BJS vs Andrade and Jacobs vs Derevyanchenko. Somehow I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jermall Charlo is the one left out of the party. Is it too soon to say he is being ducked?
How do you Think Jacobs vs Derevyanchenko will match up stylelisticly? How do you think the fight will progress? Lastly, how do you think the fact that both fighters have been trained under Rozier (albeit not for this fight) will affect the fight?
Ari from Sweden
Bread’s Response: Yes middleweight just heated up. I love it. I do think it’s too soon to say Jermall Charlo is being ducked. He’s only had two fights at 160. He doesn’t have much on the books because he’s waiting for GGG vs Canelo to clear up. Let’s see what happens next year.
I can’t call Jacobs vs SD because they used to spar all the time. Obviously whoever got the better of the sparring, is not worrisome to the other because they took the fight. I like the style match up. Actually the styles favor Derevyanchenko but it doesn’t mean he will win. I think it’s an even fight with Danny having a slight edge because he’s simply more known and judges are human.
Rozier having trained both CAN affect the fight. We just have to see if it will. If you know what you’re trainer’s adjustments are to specific problems then you can process them quickly. But here is the thing. Your mind has to think fast. It doesn’t matter if a fighter hears the corner barking out instructions or not, you have to process it and stop it.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, really insightful stuff.
Hoping you can answer some questions I have about the psychology/mental mind games that are sometimes part of the lead up to a fight. Teddy Atlas reads a lot into which fighter looks away first during the final face off after the weigh-in. Is it that big of a deal? I noticed some greats, like Pacman, generally look away first as if they don't really care about the bravado that's associated with the stare down.
On top of that, given your knowledge of the history of boxing, what are some of the great mental mind games that fighters/trainers played on the opponent that had a genuine effect on the fight?
Bread’s Response: Thank you.
The think the mental aspect of boxing is by far the most important. Teddy Atlas is great at reading some of it but I think his true gift is judging a fighter’s character. He’s not the best with his predictions but he’s good with character. I personally don’t hold as much stock into staredowns as some. Especially at weigh ins and press conferences. It can go two ways.
Just because a fighter turns away first it doesn’t mean he’s scared. Maybe he doesn’t like smelling another dude’s breath. Maybe he doesn’t want to mess up his money by punching his opponent in the face. I’m not saying it can’t tell you something because it can but I just don’t hold as much weight in the actual staring as some.
Pacman in his prime would act tepid and smile at weigh ins. Then at the actual staredown for a fight he would turn into a freaking dragon and rip your head off. The art of deception. I once told a fighter to not engage in prefight banter because I knew his opponent was a front running bully. Then once the fight started the plan was to be sharp and attack from the outside and in the 2nd half of the fight step to the bully. In the second half of the fight, the bully brokedown.
Body language, that look in their eye, that confidence in their words are the things I look for.
Some of the greatest mind games ever. Let’s see. Muhammad Ali making Sonny Liston think he was crazy. People forget Ali was only 19-0, was a 7 to 1 underdog vs a HOF, and he mentally broke him.
Roberto Duran vs Ray Leonard. Duran called Leonard’s wife some expletives. IT wasn’t classy but it made Leonard fight mad, instead of smart.
Mike Tyson hitting the walls so Michael Spinks could hear it. I really believe if Spinks could have settled down he could have made a fight out of it but his nerves were shaky early and Tyson jumped on him.
Antonio Tarver aggravating and irritating Roy Jones to fight him. It literally turned the course of Jones’s career. Jones’s 3 fight series with Tarver dropped his historical standings from top 5 to in some cases top 50.
I’m having a brain freeze this morning and I can’t think of anymore right now. But the art of Skullduggery is very important. It can definitely decide a fight. Roberto Duran, Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather are the best I’ve seen at it. They make everyone fight them mad instead of focused.
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