The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen "Breadman" Edwards tackling topics such as Vitali Klitschko vs. Lennox Lewis, Deontay Wilder's defeat to Tyson Fury, Philadelphia fighters, Teddy Atlas ripping Andy Ruiz and much more.
My husband Tom Grattini was fan. Sadly a few nights ago he had bad a massive seizure and went into cardiac arrest. I just wanted to tell that Tom was not well and so few things gave him enjoyment in life but he love reading your work and no matter how many times you featured him in the mailbag each time was equally as exciting. If you have any of his works that you would like to share with me that would be awesome. Thanks.
Thomas Grattini 06-29-1973 to 03-24-2020
Bread’s Response: This means a lot to me. You never know who’s day you’re making a little bit easier. I remember Tom. I remember his comments and questions. He loved to talk boxing. Rest in Paradise Big Fella. And my condolences to you Hillary and the rest of the family.
Hi Mr Edwards
Hope you and family are fine in this time of the coronaviris. I think that now that the Fury-Wilder excitement is over, I can add my two cents' worth. I didn't come through on my promise to make a call on that fight but I guess I would be among the many who sat with egg on their faces as I really fancied Wilder.
Well, props to Fury. That was sheer annihilation. However, I'm really getting sick of the people who are writing Wilder's chances off in the trilogy. Most of all, I'm disappointed with what Teddy Atlas said recently. Suddenly, a man with 10 title defences and almost six years at the top of the heavyweight division can't fight? What crap is this coming out of the mouth of supposedly one of boxing's top trainers?
To be honest with you, I don't think Wilder needs to make too many adjustments to be competitive or even win the rematch. Firstly, Wilder needs to come in at a weight of between 210-220kg. I first heard talk that he wants to come in heavier for the rematch soon after their controversial split draw. I didn't think Wilder was serious at the time until he came in at officially 230kg and probably 240kg on the night. Why sacrifice his explosive athleticism to augment power that was doing just fine without the extra weight? I would fire both Deas and Breland on that basis alone.
Secondly Wilder needs to go back to doing what he did with Fury's offensives in the first fight. Just keep your hands high and slide left or right depending on the hand with which Fury is punching. Don't go straight back. Study a little bit of Larry Holmes' hands-outstretched defense and apply that. It works well against a non-hooker like Fury. Wilder will never be a defensive wizard but I feel that these are the defensive minimums he needs against a head-hunter like Fury. Forget the knockdown from the body blow. That was a fluke as Wilder was off-balance when the punch landed and he wasn't hurt by it.
Thirdly, Wilder needs to work patiently behind the jab and occasionally throw the right to the body after feigning to through it to the head. Fury fully expects Wilder to throw to the head because he has experience of that from the first fight. So, it will be difficult for him to land frequently to the head and Fury has shown himself to be adept at turning his head at just the right moment to take away the force and impact of the punch. But if Wilder hurts Fury once or twice to the body with the right hand, Fury's attention would be divided between defending the body and head and boom Wilder may land the surprise flush money shot to the head.
What do you think Mr Edwards?
Also what do you think of Saol Mamby. Is he in the HOF? If not, shouldn't he be? The man's resume was crazy. Who fights killers like Roberto Duran and Antonio Cervantes and takes them the distance albeit in losing efforts. I liked your recent views where you offered a little glimpse into boxers who are in the HOF and probably shouldn't be and those who are not in but probably should be. You were talking about Arturo Gatti at the time.
Finally, what do you think of our Moruti Mthalane? Is he not the best Flyweight in the world by a mile?
Thank you, Mr Edwards and apologies for the long email.
Bread’s Response: No more EMAILS over two paragraphs. But because of the Corona Pandemic and I have too much time on my hands then I will make an exception.
I am surprised and disappointed that so many people who picked Wilder to win are now attacking him. I don’t understand why they picked him in the first place if he’s SO BAD. Why didn’t they say how horrible he was before the rematch and pick Fury to win?
I also picked Wilder to win. He lost. Fury fought a great fight and dominated. It happens. Easy to admit. I would never be so disappointed in my wrong pick to insult the fighter I thought enough of to pick in the first place. It’s not like Wilder pulled a quit job or something. He fought through being hurt several times. He gave it his all. It just wasn’t enough on that night.
I actually agree you about Wilder’s chances in the rematch. It’s about 65/35 Fury’s favor but not insurmountable. Wilder’s weight was fine in the 210s…..He didn’t need the 20lbs of bulk. He’s pushing around more weight and his speed and agility which are his biggest assets, are being compromised. He was already knocking people dead at 215lbs. And for further proof he got man handled at 230lbs so how much did it help. Often times strength and weight are correlated as one. They can be but they don’t have to be. Leverage, stamina and attitude are important when it comes to strength. And that has nothing to do with weight.
I also agree with you about Wilder defensively. Lot’s of times in boxing, great defense is equated with pretty moves and slipping punches. Pernell Whitaker had god given talents that were cultivated in boxing. All great defenses aren’t spawned from the same gifts. Winky Wright doesn’t use Whitaker’s defense. Willie Pep doesn’t use Mayweather’s defense. The best DEFENSE is the fighter who takes less punishment while still being offensive. Larry Holmes and Vitali Klitshko extended their arms and they stepped back. Wilder can employ that and just work on his awareness and recognizing where the attack is coming from. He doesn’t have to turn his defense into something fancy that won’t come off during the fight.
Next you brought up his jab and punch selection. I agree again. You have a really good eye. A more disciplined jab and placing a few straight punches to the body would do wonders for Wilder. I also noticed when he jabs he sorts of turns his head and pulls his right hand away. He has to keep his eye on the target and keep his right hand in place to catch a jab coming back.
I won’t say these are simple fixes but these aren’t things that look impossible to fix. Wilder is a world class athlete. It can be done.
I was recently watching the Vitali Klitschko vs Lennox Lewis fight and it got me thinking about Vitali’s career. I was wondering where you have him in your all time rankings. I feel like he’s criminally underrated due to him fighting not in the best era as well as being in the shadow of Wlad. However, I felt his style was much more exciting than his brothers and he had an absolute mean streak that his brother lacked. Did you see his reaction after he stopped Solis? His brother had to hold him back in what looked like Vitali was mad because he quit. He also could take a punch. Lennox gave him a hellacious uppercut that he took barely flinching. I don’t think he was ever seriously buzzed in a fight. If you look at his career he was never losing in a fight. Both his losses he was winning in the cards and either was hurt (byrd) or stopped on cuts (Lennox). Do you think he ranks higher head to head because of his sheer size makes it tough for some past heavyweights to be able to beat him? He’s compared a lot to Wlad but I feel like he was a totally different fighter. Please give me your thoughts on his career and where he ranks.
Vitali vs Bowe
Vitali vs Mike Tyson
Vitali vs Tyson Fury.
Bread’s Response: Greater and Better are often confused. There has never been a case more apparent than Wlad and Vitali. Wlad is the greater fighter because he has a bigger body of work. He also won more belts. I even think Wlad is more talented. But Vitali is BETTER.
You can comfortably put Vitali in with more historic pitbulls and not worry about him the way you do Wlad.
If you are to lose two fights. I guess losing fights by injury or cuts that you were winning on points are the best way. You are correct Vitali was never losing as far as points.
But I honestly don’t know enough about Vitali to place him too high historically. His fight with Lewis was cut short. No matter how we slice it, the fight didn’t go long enough and Lewis deserved the win. When you cut a fighter with a punch you deserve to benefit off the damage you inflicted.
The Chris Byrd fight was weird. I think Vitali was winning but he seemed a little frustrated. I think he wished he would have fought through the arm injury. His demeanor for the Lewis fight showed that. In which he literally didn’t care about his eye sight. He wanted to fight. I think he went back to the Byrd fight mentally and he wanted redemption.
The head to head match ups are tough for me because I didn’t see Vitali against enough elite level guys. I know he was a dog. I know he had good defense. I know he had a good chin. He wasn’t the puncher Wlad was but he scored more kos % wise because he was meaner. And his volume was more consistent. But he’s judged mostly on a LOSS to Lewis for how well he was doing. That gets tricky.
Vitali was an extremely dominant fighter. He rarely lost more than 2 rounds in any fight. And has a really high ko %. He also avenged two bad kos suffered by his brother vs Ross Purity and Corrie Saunders. He took some bombs in that Sanders fight. Vitali reigned as champion 3x. He won the WBO title but lost it to Chris Bryd. Then he won the WBC title vs Sanders and shortly retired but came back 4 years later and put together 9 title defenses. That sounds great on paper but he has NO stand out wins. Who were the best 3 fighters he defeated?
Vitali had a super complex career to analyze. We have never seen him conclusively beaten. If he wins the Lewis and Byrd fight he has a real case for top 10 ever because more opportunities would have been the domino effect.
As I write this I really don’t know where to rate him. Top 25 seems fairish.
This may seem like a cop out but I really don’t know what would happen in the MM you sent me.
Off the top of my head I say Bowe would win a decision over him in a tough fight. I think Bowe may have too much craft on the inside.
Vitali vs Tyson is harder for me. I can see him frustrating Tyson and stopping him late. But there is no proof on his resume. Tyson does however have some fighters on his resume that resemble Vitali in Tony Tucker, Larry Holmes and Tyrell Biggs. We are talking about best night vs best night. Flip a coin I guess.
Vitali vs Tyson Fury. Geez what a tough match up. Again it’s hard to say. They both actually fight similar. My guess today is Vitali but I really don’t know. Hard match up to figure.
Why do experts always tend to pick against Hearns in mythical matchups against good pressure fighters? They act like any pressure fighter from middleweight to light heavyweight beats him. Too few middleweights could have pulled off the strategy that Hagler employed cause very few had the chin or cardio to fight like that against Hearns and Barkley just caught Hearns while swinging wildly. It’s not like the way Leonard caught him via perfectly set-up punches and plus Barkley was getting killed till he caught him with that shot. In the second fight that Hearns lost via close decision, Hearns no longer had the legs to box from the outside for 12 rounds. Actually, I feel that Hearns had some idiosyncrasies in every weight class he fought. He was murderous against all styles at welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight as well. People forget his brilliant performances at middleweight and just remember his losses. At super middleweight, he was much wiser and had a better chin. At 175 and 190, he had much better chin and was much wiser. In fact, I believe that while an outighter like Roy Jones would have clipped Hearns at 160 and 168, I do not think that he can beat Hearns at 175 or 190 simply because his chin was much better in those weight classes.
Speaking about Hearns vs pressure fighters from 160 to 175, how do you think he would have done against the following killers - 1. Gene Fullmer, 2. Nigel Benn, 3. Gerald Mclellan, 4. Carmen Basilio, 5. Bennie Briscoe and 6. Julian Jackson.
Bread’s Response: You have what I call the “EYE”. I don’t know what you’re background is but you know what you’re looking at. You have a place in boxing. I don’t know if you could be a trainer. But you could serve a meaningful purpose in some capacity.
The funny thing about Hearns is that most iron chinned pressure fighters do get picked over him hypothetically and that’s so off base. Ray Leonard is the best welterweight since Ray Robinson who left the division in 1950. That’s 70 years. Marvin Hagler is the best middleweight since 1980. That’s 40 years. They needed their career best performances to beat Hearns in fights where they had to adapt their styles to do so. As good as they were on those nights I’m not even sure if they could have done it again in a reasonable time period after the first fights.
Hearns was a monster. He had arguably the greatest jab ever. He had arguably the greatest right hand ever. He had elite level boxing ability. He was a straight killer and a loss or ko didn’t effect his approach at all. He stayed a killer after his ko losses. He had good stamina, competing in the 15 round era.
They say the knock on him is his chin. I don’t think Hearns is chinny. I think he’s vulnerable. I think his chin is much better than fighters like Terry Norris and Amir Khan. He just doesn’t have a granite chin. It’s not dent proof. His chin is just not as good as his ATG offensive game. So that’s the one weak spot people point out and he lost his two biggest fights by ko. But Hearns is not chinless fighter. He was stopped really 3x in over 60 fights through rising 40 lbs in weight. His last stoppage was an ankle injury so I won’t count that towards his ability to take a punch.
What’s amazing about Hearns is he was never stopped over middleweight. As strange as that seems it’s a fact. Leonard stopped him at welterweight. Hagler and Barkley both stopped him at middleweight. No ko losses over 160lbs. Very bizarre but true.
I think what hurts Hearns are his stoppages came in his prime. He was under 30 for all of them. As much as I love him that’s somewhat telling in the regard that you can’t dismiss them as him being old. I also think the Barkley rematch hurts him historically slightly.
I don’t believe in lucky punches in boxing. For some reason although Hearns is much better than Iran Barkley, Barkley can fight Hearns very well. It’s one of those Norton vs Ali type of scenarios.
In the 1st fight, Barkley was getting beaten up but he was landing some nice shots. He just wasn’t as sharp as Tommy. But he was landing. Barkley had the unique ability to make Hearns fight. He didn’t allow Hearns comfort. He forced him to box at a brisk pace. Any athlete that is forced to do something out of his comfort zone will be forced into mistakes.
The reason why the top level of boxing is so difficult after a loss or two is because the elite level coaches and fighters will all compute the data and see what gave you the losses. To beat Hearns it was better to attack him and force a vicious pace. The problem is only 3 men could do it in 20 years as a pro. That’s not bad. Two of them were all time greats and one just had his number.
Back to what hurt Hearns’s historically. The Barkley rematch. If the 1st fight was luck then Tommy needed to win that rematch. His legs weren’t the same but he was bigger and stronger. I think if he would have over moved on Barkley then he goes back to the mistake of burning too much energy. So with his Higher IQ he stayed in the pocket more where it was safer. He got caught pulling out in the 1st fight. The rematch was razor close but they gave it to Barkley. We can’t dismiss luck in the 1st one after Barkley beat him in the rematch. At the special status of boxing it’s splitting hairs and 2 losses to Barkley hurt Hearns’s slightly.
I think Hearns only had two real weaknesses. His legs once he was tired got a little like young giraffe or deer. And this one will shock you. But his arm length. Hearns’s reach was measured at 78 inches which is 6’6. He was only 6’1 in height and the perfect proportioned body is reach and height exactly the same like say Kell Brook.
Now Hearn’s arms are disproportionately long for even his height. And in the mid range you could punch with him. His hook was loopy and he exposed his chin trying to reach the body. Look at how Leonard caught him in the 1st fight and again in the rematch. They were always hooking with each other. His right hand couldn’t get extension. He could still punch but because of how he was built you were safer up close attacking him. His temperament was to kill and he loaded a little in there. The problem is you had to stay there and it wasn’t easy.
Juan Roldan, Pipino Cuevas, James Shuler, James Kinchen, Dennis Andries, Roberto Duran and many others tried to get close to Hearns. None were able to do it successfully except Barkley, Leonard and Hagler.
Tommy Hearns is so good I would actually favor him over every welterweight, junior middleweight, middleweight and super middleweight active today. I think Beterbiev would be too strong at lightheavyweight, factoring in Beterbiev was a heavyweight as an amateur and everyone has a limit. Too much natural mass and physicality for Hearns in my opinion. But just think about that. He would have to go through 5 divisions before an active fighter is likely the favorite to beat him.
I’m glad you brought up Roy Jones. I have always thought that Hearns is a bad match up for Jones. Jones is an out fighter and it’s very hard to outbox him too. Jones and Hearns are two of the more difficult fighters there are to outbox. But I think you can trouble Jones because he backed straight up to the ropes more often. I know he dissected Virgil Hill who has a great jab but Hearns has a better punch variety than Hill and his jab is just as good. Hearns also on his best night had a very active jab and he shoots good straight body shots. I think Roy could clip him but I would lean towards Hearns.
Hearns vs Fulmer is a rough brutal fight. Fulmer is critically underrated and he’s one of the few pressure guys I think could get to Hearns. Fulmer was ox strong and low to the ground. I think he could get under Hearns and bull him somewhat. I say they split two fights and have to settle it with a trilogy fight.
Hearns vs Benn, Benn is animal but I think he was too wild and predictable for Hearns. I see Benn getting clipped.
Hearns vs McClellan I saw Hearns and McClellan box in an exhibition. Hearns really toyed with him. I know there can be more factors but Hearns had a clear craft advantage. Maybe McClellan was respecting his older stablemate too much. But I see Hearns just being too sharp for GMAN.
Hearns vs Basilio. Basilio is a nightmare for most. But I don’t think he’s as physical as Fulmer. He’s smaller and while better offensively he’s not as strong and he’s easier to hit. But Hearns better get him early. I think he would.
Hearns vs Briscoe is a really tough fight for both. Briscoe was a little hot and cold. For as good as he was he never went on prolonged winning streaks. Even in his prime there was always a loss or draw sprinkled in with a few wins. Part of it was his murderous schedule and the other part was he tended to give up rounds. However, I know we are talking best night vs best night. If I’m made to choose I take Briscoe because I think he was Iran Barkley but better. Briscoe was a harder puncher than Barkley, he had better stamina and craft but most of all his chin was better. You have to have world class whiskers to beat Tommy Hearns.
With Briscoe’s style and long career you would think he would have been stopped about 5 or 6 times. But in almost 100 fights and he came forward in each one like animal, he was clipped only once. That says a lot. And he was clipped by a guy in Rodrigo Valdes who simply had his number beating him 3x. It was just one of those things. So Briscoe by late stoppage but Hearns is in it all the way. However, I wouldn’t bet because Briscoe gave up too many rounds plodding.
Hearns vs Jackson. I would take Hearns big vs Jackson. Jackson has a case for the best puncher ever. But he’s a much better puncher than he is a fighter. Sure he could clip Hearns if he hit him on the chin with a kill shot. But I don’t think it would get to that. I’ve seen them both in their primes and Hearns was just better. They just missed each other. I think Hearns would have kod him inside of 4 rounds.
I have a few questions about your city, Philadelphia. Who would you say are the top 10 fighters ever from the city? Who is the most influential non boxer from the city? What do you attribute to it’s sort of recent renaissance with Tevin Farmer and Julian Williams recently winning titles. Danny Garcia still being a headliner and Jaron Ennis and Stephen Fluton looking like future P4P fighters? Has Philly ever been this hot with so many world level guys at the same time?
Bread’s Response: Oh man this is tough. In no order let me try.
Philly Top 10 fighters ever:
Matthew Saad Muhammad
Those 10 stand out to me but in honor of attribution some more Philly greats need to be mentioned. Tyrone Everett, Georgie Benton, Danny Garcia, Gypsy Joe Harris, Philadelphia Jack O Brien and Lew Tendler.
My grandfather was born in 1931. He was a shaker and baker in the city and a huge boxing fan. I have acquired most of my knowledge from the 70s on back from him because I wasn’t born until 1976. It’s very good to hear objective thoughts from people who lived during the eras.
Considering everything I have heard and everything I have acquired through research and personal knowledge I would say Russell Peltz is the most influential non boxer/participant. He’s in the HOF so he’s respected among his peers. He’s the neatest dude I’ve ever met. I’ve had the honor of going in his house and seeing his museum of boxing. Everything seems perfectly placed. That says a lot about him. He’s organized and when you observe things from my stand point that’s important.
Peltz has a REP in our city for matching his fighters too tough. I won’t argue with that. He does match his fighters tough. But I respect him because he doesn’t hide it. I’ve told him so personally. But he’s so good when he wants to get a kid to a title he can flip a switch and just do what he did with Mike Jones. He got him to 25-0 and a Top Rank contract and a title shot where he was the favorite vs Randall Bailey. That’s all you can ask for as a fighter. I believe Peltz could have did what he did for Mike Jones for about a dozen more fighters had he chose to.
Considering some of the fights he has been a part of. Considering his wealth of knowledge that I personally have witnessed. Considering his boxing “EYE”. Considering his longevity combined with his success. Objectively I have to say Russell Peltz. At least in my lifetime.
Philadelphia is not an easy city to succeed in. We are not the City of Brotherly Love. That love comes with conditions. Harsh conditions. For fighters they have to win. For non fighters they have to win and be resourceful at whatever their roles are. This is a city full of criticism and hate. For Peltz to have a 50 year run in the hardest city in America is a tribute to his character. Trust me it’s not easy. He could have easily taken his money and left and disassociated himself with this hard, critic filled place.
Recently yes although Williams and Farmer have both lost their titles, when the Corona Pandemic is over I know they will both get title shots again. Danny Garcia has been our most consistent elite level fighter. And Fulton and Ennis have P4P potential. Philly is very hot.
But I don’t know if this is the hottest it’s ever been. At one time David Reid and Bernard Hopkins were both champions at the same time fighting on HBO and Showtime. We also had a time where Tyrell Biggs and Meldrick Taylor were both winning Gold Medals.
When Matthew Saad Muhammad was light heavyweight champion of the world, the city was red hot. Lots of great fighters trained and fought out of here.
I won’t say this is the hottest era but this has been one of the more relevant eras in recent history.
So, Breadman... I was having a debate with a coworker over which was the bigger upset in boxing history: Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson or Andy Ruiz Jr. over Anthony Joshua? I argued for Tyson-Douglas while he argued the opposite.
He made several compelling points in his argument... The biggest points were that Douglas, while a huge underdog, was a consensus top 10 heavyweight at that time. Ruiz, at the time of his upset, was NOT. He also argued that Douglas was a scheduled opponent was Ruiz was a last-minute replacement.
My argument was that Mike Tyson was still seen as nigh-invincible at the time of the upset. AJ... not so much. I mean, maybe it was just me... but ever since AJ’s fight with Klitschko, I had noticed chinks in his armor (that said... I still picked him to beat Ruiz via mid to late stoppage). I also argued from a strict numbers perspective (which I normally hate to do, as I believe numbers never tell the whole story). Douglas was a 42 to 1 underdog... at one casino (the ONLY casino that entertained the idea of an upset). With Joshua-Ruiz, more than one casino put up odds on it... Ruiz was what? 25 to 1? 30 to 1? Don’t remember the exact odds, but it was in that ballpark. I also I argued the minor point that there’s a historical precedent that British boxers struggle with American debuts.
What are your thoughts, Breadman? Which upset do you think is bigger?
Bread’s Response: Douglas vs Tyson! Tyson was as highly regarded by peers and media during that time as anyone had ever been in history at a similar stage. People were already saying he could have been the best heavyweight champion ever. He had video games. Bert Sugar had him ranked him in the top 30 All Time. No fighter had ever been that highly regarded so early. Douglas had also been stopped by Tony Tucker, a fighter who Tyson had beaten a few years earlier. It was the biggest shock in the history of boxing. Nothing comes close.
Here is Chris from France.
Like every saturday i have read your mailbag with great interest.
In last saturday mailbag you were writing that the olympic final between lewis and bowe was some kind of a joke because of a corrupted referee.
This was very strange for me to read that as i had always remembered that bowe was clearly destroyed by lewis in this final and like many others i thought that this was one of the main reasons why bowe had clearly avoided lewis during his pro career.
Of course after having read your mailbag i immediately rewatched the final on you tube and i really could not believe my eyes....indeed like you said this was a clear robbery.
I am not saying that bowe would have won the final but he was clearly given no chance.
He won the first round but the ref gave him an absurd warning for an imaginary headbutt.
Then in the second rounds the referee counts him without any real resons and then immediately after stops him without any more reason.
What amazes me is that unless i am wrong nobody has never really spoken about that very controversial final ? it seems that most people believe that bowe was clearly destroyed by lewis in that final and that then it was always thought that bowe was kind of fearing lewis ? do you have any ideas why people did not talk more about such a clear scandal which happened during the final of the olympics for the heavyweights ?
Everybody always mention the robbery for roy jones but i wonder what could be the reasons for noboby being really outraged by this final ?
To be honest i was not outraged the first time i saw it and i still wonder why.
Thanks to you after rewatching same it is clear that it was a total joke and that the referee was clearly a corrupted person (nobody can be that incompetent). Would you have any logical explanations why nobody has never really spoken about same ? or was it a scandal in the usa at the time ?
All the best
Chris from France
Bread’s Response: Sometimes as time passes the energy dissolves. I have grown to respect the great Lennox Lewis immensely. In no way would I ever try to discredit his victory. But I lived through that time. I was in the 7th grade during the 1988 Olympics. That Olympic team is severely underrated. It’s just as good as the 76 & 84 teams.
But to answer you directly maybe time just softened what happened. Also you have to realize most of the time people don’t care about details unless they lived through it. Historically the bottomline is the results and the results take precedence. The bottom line is Lewis won the Gold over Bowe by stoppage. Sometimes the details don’t get noticed. I may have overlooked them if I didn’t watch it while it happened.
It stood out to me at the time because Bowe had such a good 1st round and the referee literally tried to break his momentum. I also remembered what they did to Roy Jones in that same Olympics. There was another incident with a USA fighter, I believe his name was Todd Foster. He had some serious controversy in one of his fights. I think they tried to DQ him for showing up late and Coach Kenny Adams was arguing with the officials. I don’t know the exact details of that incident…..
Maybe one day the fighters from that team and coaches can tell some of the stories of what happened. I think there was corruption against the USA, period. Why, I don’t know. I can’t remember the world events at the time. But it was obvious. The Roy Jones decision was the most openly corrupt scoring in the history of amateur boxing. So it stands out but there was more. Much more.
I once got into a debate with a fighter about the Lewis vs Bowe amateur fight. The fighter was born years after the 88 Olympics. He kept arguing with me and another coach who watched it while it happened. But the fighter didn’t understand that some things don’t hit you unless you lived through them. Especially when you’re too stubborn to research.
Did you read Teddy Atlas’s comments about Andy Ruiz being almost like a drug addict? Did it seem harsh or accurate to you? How do you view a pairing of Atlas and Ruiz?
Bread’s Response: Actually I did read Atlas’s comments. And I agree with him. He was spot on. He came off as harsh but if Ruiz wants to work with him he’s going to have to deal with that. I think Atlas despite not always agreeing with him, is one of the premier boxing minds ever. He understands certain things that only a few do. He gets the psychological side of boxing more than most. I listen to him closely and he really gets it. As did Cus D mato his mentor. It doesn’t mean he’s always right about his view points or predictions. But it does mean he has relevance on boxing topics and his view points should be considered.
I also read something telling that Atlas said about Ruiz. Getting him away from his environment. Some people think getting away you’re your environment means going 500 miles away from home. It doesn’t have to be. It’s more abstaining from your vices at home. If you’re from LA and you train in Colorado for a fight. But you bring the same people who are a distraction in LA to Colorado. And you talk to the same people on the phone everyday that distract you in LA. It’s no point of leaving. The result will be the same.
Obviously Ruiz has been enabled by someone. Who, I don’t know? But I have a cut and dry attitude when it comes to this. Either you’re a liability or asset when it comes to an athlete. Sometimes family and friends don’t have to help train the fighter. But if they stay out of the fighter’s way and understand what they need and don’t distract them they can be an asset. I call that a positive support group. When they don’t let them rest, think it’s cool to bother them about things before a fight, make them take extra responsibilities that interfere with their training then they’re a liability. Atlas recognizes that and he said so much.
He also pointed out that it was NOT Manny Robles’s fault that Ruiz lost. That’s important. Robles had a great game plan and was highly touted in taking Ruiz to the biggest win of his career a few months earlier on short notice. In the rematch they had more time to train yet Ruiz comes in heavier. He comes in unfocused. And Robles gets fired. That really sucks. Anyone could see the writing on the wall. Robles didn’t make Ruiz gain weight, get complacent and pretty much not be hungry for the very next fight. I usually stay away from this but it sucks in general that Robles loses at least a 6 figure training job because of lack of focus, lack of prioritizing and lack of discipline from a Ruiz.
For Atlas to say that it wasn’t Robles’s fault is very honorable. Some fighters require a Drill Seargeant/baby sitter/life coach/boxing coach. When all the coach signed up for is a boxing coach and not everyone has it in them to do all of those other things. It’s very draining to have to deal with so many character issues from someone who can literally just fire you at a moment’s notice. Especially when it’s not your son.
If Ruiz buys into Atlas he’s going to be a better fighter and person. It doesn’t mean he’s going to beat Joshua, Wilder or Fury. But his mental and physical preparation will be on point and being disciplined and organized will give him his best chance to succeed. Atlas is a character trainer. He points out the flaws and a fighter has to deal with them. I have heard him personally tell a fighter that he came apart a little bit in certain moments. He’s very forthright and he’s not for everyone. I‘ve heard fighters say they couldn’t deal with his rigidness. But I like it. If I wasn’t a trainer and my son boxed I wouldn’t mind him being trained by Atlas because only high character disciplined kids can take that. Anything less and it won’t work. Tim Bradley did well with him because he has those characteristics. And when I say well I’m not always talking about wins and losses. I’m talking about a thriving relationship. Not all trainers like the fighters they train and not all fighters like the trainers who train them.
As for the drug addict comment it does sound harsh but addiction is prevalent in boxing. Atlas obviously knows this and is well informed on the disease of addiction. I have been saying it for a very long time. Fighters have eating addictions/disorders and they have cell phone/social media addiction. It’s worst than people realize. It’s literally crippling careers.
I was disappointed to see that Canelo & Josh Warrington had both taken the Pandemic opportunity to choose less interesting fights with Canelo preferring Golovkin 3 to BJS & JW taking Xu Can instead of Shakur.
Neither has taken, remotely, an EASY fight, just one that was a bit easier than the best fight. This left me thinking about the difference, which you rightly insist on, between an HOF & an ATG.
It seems to me that the biggest difference isn't about how many wins, how many KOs, how many titles, or even how many HOFs you beat. To be an ATG you've got to fight everyone around your weight.
To give an example, I have no problem calling Barry McGuigan a HOF. He really was a ray of light in a trouble time: 'leave the fighting to McGuigan' & his fights were tremendous. The Hall rocked when he fought Pedroza. He deserves HOF status even though we all knew he only held the WBA title at FW & was never likely to try for unification because the WBC holder was Azumah Nelson, who would have knocked him spark out. Barry could, however, never be an ATG & I hope most people understand that.
However, lots of people call Joe Calzaghe an ATG. I have no problem calling Joe Calzaghe a HOF but an ATG? He refused to give Robin Reid a rematch after winning a most dubious decision (I had it Reid by 2) & ran from Glen Johnson like a rabbit from a fox. To me, you can't be an ATG in those circumstances, just no.
Finally, Bread, you made a point I've almost never heard anyone make before. That Riddick's problem wasn't how often he got touched but that he got hit clean over again. Normally a guy will roll, duck, put a glove in the way but Riddick was caught clean over again. It was scary to see Tubbs, Holyfield, Hide hit Bowe square on but horrible to see the brute size of Golota just tee off on him. The only other guy I can remember so susceptible to be hit clean was Quarry.
Anyway, Bread, your thoughts ?
Bread’s Response: Reserve your judgment on any fighter until the Pandemic is over. We still don’t know when boxing will start again. No one has experience going through anything like this. Just be patient at this time.
There is definitely a difference between a HOF and a ATG. ATG fighters are fighters who usually fall into the top 100 fighters of all time regardless of weight. They are usually fighters who made most of the best available fights to them during their careers. They win more than they lose these fights. They give a look of specialness with either their records or their performances or both. So not only fighting the best fighters available you have to win more than you lose to these fighters on a consistent basis.
Barry McGuigan is a great example. I watched McGuigan and he was a great fighter and HOF. People may try to discredit his resume but he was flat out a great pressure fighter. On his best day he could have hung with anyone at 126. I don’t think Azumah would have smoked him. Although I would have favored Azumah because he is an all time great. But Jeff Fenech gave Azumah fits in their 1st fight and McGuigan is just as good as Fenech on his best night although Fenech is considered better overall because of his 3 division titles.
In this era and the era that just passed I will show you the difference in a HOF and an ATG. Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez and Bernard Hopkins are All Time Greats. Tim Bradley, Winky Wright, Carl Froch and Kostya Tszyu are HOF.
Now the tricky thing is you can be an ATG within your division which in my opinion is you rank top 10 ever in your division you’re an ATG in that particular division but not be an ATG overall. For example Froch and Tszyu may be ATG at Super Middleweight and Junior Welterweight. But not overall.
Then you have some interesting borderline ATG cases like say a Miguel Cotto and Andre Ward. Cotto has had a better career than people realize. His 4 division titles are bigger than people want to admit. His WIN over Sergio Martinez gets ridiculed after the result but before the fight most picked Cotto to lose stating that he was shot because of what Manny and Margarito did to him at welterweight and what Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout did to him at junior middleweight.
So Cotto goes to middleweight and beats the lineal champion as an underdog and everyone says that Martinez was past his best days. But Cotto was 5 years removed from terrible beatings two weight divisions below. He had also lost 2 of his last 3 at junior middleweight. Martinez had leg issues but he didn’t walk into that ring limping. Cotto aggravated those injuries by knocking him down. Only two men in history have won titles at junior welterweight and at middleweight. Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto. Many feel Oscar got a gift. Cotto won by conclusive ko vs the lineal champion. If you factor in his runs at 140, 147 and 154 and how he fought the best available guy. Cotto may be an ATG. Not a Mt. Rushmore type like Floyd and Manny but he rates along with Oscar and Mosley. In fact there is a case he’s had a better career than Mosley.
Andre Ward is another interesting case. I think he may be an ATG. But because he only has 32 fights and he was inactive some critics won’t put him at ATG status. It’s compelling. He doesn’t have a Ray Leonard, Joe Frazier or Michael Spinks type of case being fighters with under 40 fights who locked their ATG status with HUGE legacy wins. But I think Ward has more of an Aaron Pryor type of case. Pryor had 10 defenses of his junior welterweight title. He finished 39-1. He has 2 HOF scalps in Arguello and Cervantes. Pryor is an ATG at 140 and he makes a strong case for an ATG overall.
I think Ward’s best wins are Kessler who is underrated in my opinion. Dawson who was on his way to the HOF until he ran into Ward. Froch who is a HOF lock. And Kovalev who is a HOF lock despite many who try to discredit him. Kovalev is a great fighter despite his flaws in and out of the ring. Ward doesn’t have BIG misses. Only Bute stands out and I wish he would’ve gotten to Bute before Froch but Bute really sputtered down the stretch with his losses, performances and PED use. That’s the only nitpick on Ward’s career besides his inactivity. He beat the best Super Middleweights of his era and he beat the best lightheavyweight of his era. He also took on some top contenders and won every fight clean except Kovalev 1 and he avenged that.
I’m interested to see where historians rank Cotto and Ward. It’s easy to rank the Roy Jones’s and Pernell Whitaker’s as ATG. But guys like Ward and Cotto are slightly harder.
Calzaghe is also interesting. I don’t know if he ranks over Ward or Cotto. I know he was 46-0 and he has gaudy title defense numbers but waiting so long to come over to the US I think hurts him. This is really tough. I really wish Calzaghe had stuck around just one more year to turn back the ascending Carl Froch or Andre Ward. He literally just missed them as they were coming into their title reigns.
Riddick Bowe was a fighter I studied because he beat my favorite fighter of the 90s, Evander Holyfield. I was very impressed with Bowe. He had it all. He even had a catch, rock and counter move he would do. It gave Holyfield fits. Watch their 1st fight especially. He would rock on a Holyfield shot and come back with one of his own. Holyfield did the same move but Bowe was 25lbs heavier and if offset Holyfield’s mid range game. That’s why Holyfield actually was better off fighting Bowe from the outside. Everyone always talks about height and reach but god given ability has to be factored in when choosing a style to fight.
Bowe had what I call TACTILE reflexes. They were activated by touch. Catch and Counter was easy for him. That’s why he was so murder on the INSIDE. But on the outside he was always hit clean with HUGE shots. He didn’t time those shots as well. Herbie Hide hit him with straight right hand after straight right hand. Bowe had an incredible chin. But his chin burnt out over time. It’s why his window of greatness was over by the time he was 28. And it’s also why most pick Lennox Lewis to have beat him as a pro because of Lennox’s OUTSIDE Game. Good pick up on Bowe.
Quick question about Ali's legacy. When do you think was the best time to retire considering his legacy & historical meaning? I think there were like 3 key moments:
1 - after third Frazier fight
2 - after 10th consecutive title defense (Shavers)
3 - after beating Leon in the rematch
I think if he stopped at any of that points Ali's career would've been viewed better, but not necessarily Ali as a fighter. For me part of his Greatness is being human. In his past prime years he showed next level chin & heart, even in the losses. Assuming he stopped at 1/2/3 - in which of these cases his legacy gains the most purely from historical standpoint?
And another thing - Ali was already well past prime when he beat Foreman and then he scored 10 title wins in possibly the best HW era, beating guys like Frazier, Norton, Young and hungry punchers like Lyle and Shaves... Damn, he beat one of the greatest HW punchers of all time at 35! Is it enough to make Ali the best past prime fighter in boxing history? Can you give your TOP 5 past prime fighters in history and point to other notable past prime runs in your view?
Bread’s Response: I’ve always felt that Ali should have retired after the Frazier trilogy fight. You could see a huge slippage from the 1971 version of Ali who lost to Frazier and the 1975 version who beat Frazier. Ali had slowed down by a full step and trigger pull. His speech had also started to get funny. He fought 10x after the Thrilla and Manilla. He had completely shot his load in that fight. I still don’t know how he wasn’t getting stopped.
Ali was able to rack up 6 more title defenses after the Thrilla & Manilla. And that adds to his legacy from a numbers stand point. But he struggled vs Ken Norton and Jimmy Young. Many thought he didn’t deserve either decision. Only the Shavers win stands out after the Frazier trilogy fight. Beating Spinks allowed to him to win the heavyweight title 3x and it added a 4th Gold Medalist to Ali’s resume but he didn’t need it. Everything Ali did after the Frazier fight added to his health decline and was just icing on the cake legacy wise. He’s already the best and greatest heavyweight ever by 1975 after Frazier.
If Ali retires after the 3rd Frazier fight. He’s 49-2. He avenged both of his career losses. The Norton 3rd fight wouldn’t get brought up and most feel as though Ali won the rematch close but clean. He beats his biggest rivals in Liston, Patterson, Foreman and Frazier. He still would be the best heavyweight of both the 60s and 70s just without the wear and tear. No one would be able to bring up the ridiculous comment that he lost to a fighter 7-0 in Leon Spinks. No Holmes, no Berbick. No Young robbery. No Norton controversy. The only special thing that he leaves on the table is the 15th round flurry vs Shavers.
But as you know most fighters don’t retire from boxing. Boxing retires most fighters.
Is Ali the best past his prime fighter ever? I don’t know for sure. He did do something no one else has done. And that is being the best fighter in the division’s best era while being past his prime. Ali was the best heavyweight of the 70s. Frazier and Foreman are both younger than him. The 70s is the best era in the history of the heavyweight division. No other fighter in history can say that.
Other past their prime greats let’s see.
Archie Moore has to be very high. He won a light heavyweight title at almost 40 and held it for 9 years. That’s remarkable.
Manny Pacquiao is another. If his prime ended in 2012 with a brutal ko loss. He’s still a top 3 welterweight now at 41 in 2020. I’m not sure if that’s ever been done before.
Bernard Hopkin’s run at light heavyweight from 2006-15 was remarkable. He won the light heavyweight title 3x during that time. He unified. And he fought better competition at 175 than he did at 160. Special run.
Ray Robinson. Robinson was the best middleweight and fighter of the 1950s besides being over 130 fights into his career. He also won the middleweight title 5x in the 1950s vs younger HOF fighters. Lamotta, Turpin, Olson, Basilio and Fulmer are all in the HOF and younger than Robinson. That’s just as incredible as what Ali did in the 70s.
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