The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen "Breadman" Edwards tackling topics such as the speed of Adrien Broner, Canelo Alvarez's pound-for-pound, Anthony Dirrell vs. Kyrone Davis, Sergio Mora's opinion on increasing power and more.

Greetings Breadman!

I'd like to begin by thanking you for taking the time away from your busy schedule to provide us boxing fanatics with something to look forward to every Saturday morning. And more personally, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to answer my question a couple months back about Michael Nunn. I loved your feed-back on him and agree with your assessment of his career and talent. In response to someone's question about the Wilder/ Breland situation, you addressed the issue of "yes men" in the sport and the effect it can have on a fighter. What a great subject. The first fighter's career that comes to mind for me in this regard is my all time favorite, "Iron" Mike Tyson. Many people will say Tyson was never the same after prison, but for me the exact moment that he began to decline was when he fired Kevin Rooney. Now, I'm not saying it's because Rooney was the best of trainers or even an all-time great (I'm not aware of any world champions or boxing superstars he trained post-Tyson), but it was what Rooney represented for Tyson: namely his roots as a fighter, and monastic-like discipline and fidelity to the boxing lifestyle he lived up in the Catskills.

Firing Rooney severed his relationship with that part of his life and he began to unravel as a person and decline as a fighter. I would like to know your thoughts on that, because to me, he was never the same fighter and surrounding himself with the very worst sort of "yes men" exacerbated his decline. I don't believe any trainer ever had any significant control with Mike after Rooney and it was to his detriment. I'm someone who truly believes that the Tyson who fought Michael Spinks in June 1988 knocks out Douglas and probably Lewis, and beats Holyfield in a FOTY (decade!) War. But we'll never know because by the time he fought Holy and Lennox he was a shell of that guy from June '88.  

Speaking of Tyson/ Holyfield... I know you're a HUGE Holyfield guy, but like myself you also value objectivity... Though he was never caught cheating, a guy named "Evan Fields" who lived at Holyfield's address and had Holyfield's birthdate and who's contact phone number was Evander Holyfield's, was 'allegedly" purchasing both testosterone and HGH from a compounding pharmacy in Mobile, Alabama when they were busted. (https://nypost.com/2007/03/02/report-holyfield-used-alias-to-buy-steroids/REPORT: HOLYFIELD USED ALIAS TO BUY STEROIDS. No new names surfaced in the latest steroids investigation to make headlines, but former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield was implicated further. Sports Illustrated’s Web site reported …nypost.com) I distinctly remember watching the first fight against Tyson and marveling at the size of Holyfield's body, but particularly his head! I know he always lifted weights, but his head looked enormous! It reminded me of when Barry Bonds hat size increased when he was taking it. Those fights with Tyson occurred at a time when testing was far less sophisticated than now, particularly regarding HGH. The man was an absolute WARRIOR with the heart of a lion, but where there's smoke, there's usually fire. To Tyson's credit, he's never brought it up or used it as an excuse, though he must've heard and read about it. Thanks for taking the time to read my email Bread. I'm wishing you and yours the very best my friend.

Gratefully, Sean (Atlantic City)    

Bread’s Response: Mike Tyson is a very unique fighter to train. I was always surprised when he would switch trainers and while they were great trainers they didn’t teach the Peek A Boo style. The numbers system and the Peek A Boo style are something that was inbred in Tyson for many years. I think that while the other trainers tried to duplicate their knowledge on what Mike was taught, it was just different than what Dmato, Rooney and Atlas taught him long ago.

 I agree that Tyson slipped after the Spinks fight. But I think it was a combination of things. His new status and the actual style that he was taught from a young boy. The shifting and swiveling of Tyson’s hips and punches is not easy to teach. Tyson doesn’t get credit for being a fighter who switches. On the inside he switched from orthodox to southpaw as much as any fighter I have ever seen. He just didn’t from the outside so it was overlooked. I think Rooney’s absence in the gym hurt him as much as anything.

Here is the thing about Yes Men. I don’t believe it’s all their fault. If you meet a fighter later in his career and he wants to do things his way and you’re still going to get paid, win or lose. I don’t see a problem with the trainer just taking the money. It’s not for me because I want to win more than I want to make money. But I’m not knocking anyone taking the money. I actually think it’s the fighter’s fault for not having a teachable energy. I blame the fighter for not being receptive to redirection. The fighter shouldn’t make the trainer choose between pride and money. Everyone’s circumstances are different, some trainers need the money and if the fighter wants to act a fool the trainer will let him and just keep collecting the check. 

Tyson was young and a live wire. Cus died when he was just 19. And Rooney separated when he was 22. Both may have had a hard time controlling him once he hit a certain status. We will never know. Maybe no one could’ve controlled him at a certain point…

Evander Holyfield is my 2nd favorite fighter of my lifetime behind Ray Leonard. This is troubling for me because I loved that man so much. I’m not going to get too far into it because his career is over and it’s just a slippery slope. But I will say that the Evan Fields situation does display some strong circumstantial evidence. And I will just leave it at that.

What's up Bread,

A few questions for you this week:

1. I am seeing/reading more and more regarding the conversations around Canelo about other world champions/titlists having to "earn the right" to fight him. Everytime another champion fights in 160-175lbs during a title defense, boxing media then flocks the conversation surrounding the fighter and if he's done enough in his "audition" or "sweepstakes" for a Canelo fight. Canelo is a hell of a fighter and is working towards ATG status, if he has a goal to unify and other titlists also want to unify, why is that a problem? Why are the other titlists all of a sudden not good enough? When the likes of Sweet Pea, RJJ, DLH, Floyd, and Manny were dominating and rated P4P No.1 were illogical conversations like this coming up? Were the people out there ever questioning if Buddy McGirt, Bernard Hopkins, Tito Trinidad, etc "earned" a fight with them? Bread help me to understand, am I tripping?

2. Often times when we talk about pressure or educated pressure fighters we have a certain type of fighter in mind like a Canelo, Duran, or Lomanchenko. But could pure pugilists with fast hands and quick trigger be considered "pressure fighters", but just in a different application of pressure? In every sport you'll hear the saying "speed kills" and that also applies to boxing. Fast athletes usually lead to errors on stolen base attempts in baseball, cheap fouls in basketball, and complete defensive breakdowns in football. Could this also apply in boxing on how an opponent may feel they need to be perfect, begin to think too much, and begin to make costly mistakes? Appreciate the talk as always.

Stephen from Dallas

Bread’s Response: I wouldn’t consider a pure pugilist with fast hands to be a pressure fighter. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t putting “pressure” on their opponents. Speed is very hard to overcome in boxing. And if you are the type of fighter who makes their opponents constantly pay for their mistakes and also threatening them with your speed and skill, you’re applying pressure. In actuality that’s what most faster, more skillful fighters do. Great pick up.

Greetings and blessings as always, the way that I watch boxing has changed in the 10 plus years I’ve been reading this mailbag, thru high school and 2 enlistments. Short and to the point, how can a fighter apply different types of pressure? Pressure from the angle like a prime Pac-Man, smothering pressure like Jeff Fenech or a Henry Armstrong, downhill “walk down” pressure like Margarito & Spence and “Distance” pressure like Kovalev pre ko’s and last but not least all out pressure like Roberto Duran? Interesting thought considering how you broke down different types of power. How would you train a guy who is going up against a pressure fighter? Thank you for your time. Jack from Detroit

Bread’s Response: Lot’s questions about pressure fighters. Everybody seems to love that Mailbag about the different types of Power. Swordsmen, Electric Slashers, The Bludgeon Crew, Heavy Handed Debilitators and Speed Thudders. 

Ok I don’t like to classify things generally so I like how you described the different type of pressure. So let’s see…Off the top of my head I will give you the pressure then I will give you an example of the fighter who does it. Long Range Stalkers: Krusher Kovalev and Tommy Hearns were the master of this.

Suffocators: As you stated Henry Armstrong, Jeff Fenech and Joe Frazier.

Downhill Blues: Alexis Arguello, Errol Spence, Antonio Margarito, Felix Trinidad. This is usually a taller guy coming forward but not keeping everything at range like the stalker, he’s inside, mid range and outside.

Pressure Technicians: Julio Cesar Chavez, Canelo, Alvarez, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Vasyl Lomachneko. These guys are actually boxing going forward in a technical fashion.

Frenetic Rhythm Boys: Aaron Pryor, Manny Pacquiao, Shawn Porter. These fighters are bouncing in and out, up and down, always probing to find the angle to get to their opponents

Fast Fire: This is what most athletic boxers do, when they are in attack mode. It’s pressuring an opponent without being called a pressure fighter. Shane Mosley did this well. Ray Leonard was also great at this when he wasn’t moving away from an opponent. Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson was also very good at this. As was Meldrick Taylor.

Breadman,

One of my favorite mailbags you had was when I asked you about the different types of power. I saw a clip of Adrien Broner vs Gavin Rees, he looked so fast and twitchy. So my question is the different types of speed in boxing and can you give examples of fighters new and old?

Jermaine from London 

Bread’s Response: You guys are asking me some tough questions today. I like it though. Of course there are different types of speed. The best kind of speed in my is harnessed speed, with quick reaction time. Which leads to Speed and Quickness. Broner was very fast. He had elite speed. But I’m not sure if he processed as fast as his speed was. Meaning he was faster than he was Quick. I think Broner’s speed is comparable to Zab Judah. Extremely fast. They were quick but not that elite level quickness. Bernard Hopkins had extreme Quickness. He could see everything that you were going to do to him. He had the ability to land a lead right hand on everyone. But he wasn’t as fast as a lot of fighters. 

Shane Mosley was much faster with his body than Hopkins, but yet Hopkins was much quicker mentally. His mind processed much faster. I have to keep repeating this. Speed is in the body. Quickness is in the mind. 

Speed really comes down to harnessed speed and unharnessed speed. Amir Khan and Ed Hopson had unharnessed speed. They were too fast for their own good. They ran into things, they shouldn’t have. Fighters who are too fast always get kod brutally because they are moving too fast and they lose track of what their opponent is doing.

Harnessed Speed is Roy Jones, Floyd Mayweather and Ray Leonard. They’re fast but not too fast. Then you have neat speed. Neat speed is Floyd Mayweather. Everytime he fights a fast fighter. Pacman, Mosley and Judah. Floyd is neater. His speed is more efficient. He’s straight to the point. The fast trio is extremely fast but they waste movement. Floyd doesn’t. I can go on all day about this. Literally I don’t have enough space.

Coach Edwards hello from Canada !  Just the other day I watched the Brown vs Tice matchup you had talked about recently and it was great! I was wondering if you might give us a ‘diamond in the rough’ matchup in the mailbag of a fight you think was great but might not be so well known nowadays. I recently watched a Sugar Ramos match that was awesome even though I had never heard of it before. And you thoughts on Custio Clayton from Canada ? Thanks coach!

Christian

Bread’s Response: Clayton is solid but he doesn’t fight enough. Another Diamond in the Rough fight. Ok…. I will give you three. 1. Marco Antonio Barrera vs Kennedy McKinney. Everyone talks about Barrera vs Morales. Well watch this fight. First fight on Boxing After Dark and it didn’t disappoint. 2. Bobby Chacon vs Bazooka Limon 4. This fight has a case for the best action fight ever. Every bit as good as Corrales vs Castillo1. 3. James Page vs Jose Luis Castillo. BRUTAL!

Yes Breadman I wanna talk Hooks thumb up or thumb down. Which one do you prefer? Who is your top 3 favorites for each method? I remember Teddy Atlas changing Tim Bradley's hook vs Brandon Rios. How hard is it to change something like that?

Jermaine from London 

Bread’s Response: Thumb UP! The reason being is you can only throw 1 thumb down hook. With the thumb UP you can double and triple it. I was training at Joe Frazier’s gym while a Freshman in college. I kept hurting my wrist throwing my hook thumb down. The great Joe Frazier explained to me that the hand is stronger with the Thumb Up. He did an experiment to prove it. He told me to me hold my thumb up on a hook. He pulled my arm and it felt weak. He then told me to hold my hook thumb UP. He pulled my arm and the tendons were stronger. I never threw a thumb down hook again. No matter what any trainer said I remembered what Mr. Frazier told me. My favorite hookers are Ray Robinson, Roy Jones and Nonito Donaire. 

Hey Mr Edwards Hope you and yours are good. In the wake of Canelo Alvarez's blowout of a horribly overmatched Avni Yildirim, the debate once more swung to the mystical pound for pound number one and Canelo was elevated or confirmed to that spot, depending on the point of view. Significantly, Terrence Crawford, another pound for pound number one claimant was sitting at ringside. You have covered this topic extensively in previous mailbags and your criteria for the pound for pound ratings makes absolute sense. So, this email is not about what one should look for in a pound for pound entrant but about who should be number one between Canelo and Crawford. We are all grateful to Teofimo Lopez for wrecking the triumvirate by taking Vasiliy Lomachenko out of the equation.

One of your criteria is clearly quality of opposition faced. I want to briefly look at that and examine how Canelo and Crawford fared respectively in those fights. Canelo's resume looks better but only because, as a cash cow, fighters are stumbling over each other to get a big payday. However, there is no way, except for GGG, that any one can convince me that Canelo's winning resume is ACTUALLY better than Crawford's. Daniel Jacobs is competent but will never get into the HOF. The same can be said of Amir Khan, Erislandy Lara, Ashton Trout, James Kirkland etc. The point I'm making is Canelo beat a lot of guys who were not on an elite level. What's worse is that in at least three of those fights he got gift decisions because he was always favored to carry boxing's banner after Floyd Mayweather retired. The first time Canelo faced an elite level fighter in Mayweather he was humbled and humiliated but no one wants to say that because he is still currently the immediate and future of the sport.

Yuriorkis Gamboa, Julius Indongo, Jesse Benavidez, Jeff Lundy and the Mean Machine, etc are good but will never make it into the HOF. But there is no argument about the fact that Crawford beat them decisively. They did not finish the fights on their feet. Of course Crawford has not faced an elite level fighter but that is not his fault. Errol Spence Jr, who is said to be elite, which I doubt immensely, is denying Crawford the opportunity to show that he really has no peer. Khan is closer in size and weight to Crawford than he was to Canelo yet Crawford beat him just as decisively as Canelo did. In fact, it could even be a better win for Crawford because whereas Khan believed he was competitive with Canelo until he got clipped, his quitting against Crawford was an admission that he was out of his depth.

Kell Brook suffered orbital bone damage against GGG and Spence in fights in which he was competitive to the end. Crawford rendered him senseless in a shorter fight than both. Now, people say Brook was finished when he fought Crawford. That's the worst lie I ever heard. He was competitive in back to back fights with GGG and Spence and never lost a fight thereafter until he lost to Crawford. How can such a fighter be shot? Unless they want to say he was already shot when he fought both Canelo and Spence, which they are not saying. So, the intention is clearly to discredit Crawford.

With all that, Crawford is clearly number 1 pound for pound. He has no controversial wins on his resume and he is undefeated.  He also has no PED history but the same cannot be said for Canelo. The PBC situation is not of his creation and even if he joined PBC, I only see Shawn Porter being brave enough to face him which, in any event, Porter is willing to do even without Crawford joining PBC. Spence, Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman and all of that PBC crowd of Welterweights do not only avoid Crawford because they know he will beat them. They are also afraid that he will expose and humiliate them. Guys like Jacobs and Callum Smith on the other hand secretly knew that Canelo would beat but not shame them. That's what sets Crawford apart. What do you think Mr Edwards?

Katlholo Johannesburg, South Africa.

Bread’s Response: First off I want to say it’s not Canelo’s fault that Yildrim was his mandatory. Canelo wants to fight 4x this year and it’s very hard to fight 4x in a calendar year and not fight one mandatory. So Canelo got his mandatory out of the way. I don’t get the criticism. It’s ridiculous and I hope more fighters choose to fight more than 2x/year. You won’t fight an A list killer every fight, if you choose to fight 4x in a year. No matter what era you’re in. So people need to get off of Canelo’s back in that particular aspect.

As for your P4P argument I actually don’t have an issue with it. Canelo’s resume is better than Crawford’s but it’s not as overwhelming as some may think. Most of the bigger names were not in their primes, which is not all Canelo’s fault but it is the case. Canelo is also the cash cow, so while fighters don’t want to face Crawford, everyone wants to face Canelo. So their resumes will look  different. But as far as true threat value. Canelo’s resume is better but his resume is not the same as say Pacman, Oscar, Holyfield or Leonard’s. There is a difference. 

The PED thing is the PED thing. If we are picking straws and it’s really close. And one guy has tested positive and the other hasn’t, I think the one who hasn’t, deserves credit for not testing positive and displaying similar performances. I’m not making any accusations or getting into whether it was the meat or not, that's another topic. But I think Canelo is special. His skillset is at master level. But the test happened... 

I also agree that Crawford has NEVER once had a fight where there was even a small % chance that he lost. Canelo has had a handful. Again if you’re picking straws, every little thing counts. For the record I have Canelo, Crawford and Inoue all locked up at the top spot. The race is that close if you really look close at their performances. Who do you think is the best if they all fought in the same weight class, and why they are in certain positions? All 3 are HOFs. 

Canelo probably has the greater legacy. But being the best and being the greatest is not always exclusive. Canelo looks to be about to separate himself because of his star power. If he runs Smith, Saunders and Plant it would be really hard to not put him over Crawford and Inoue, which most people already do anyway. If the biggest star also is performing the best and having the best fights it’s hard to argue.

I remember this argument with Roy and Oscar. Roy was the better fighter. But Oscar’s resume and hot streak was more significant for a certain period because he was able to get the better and bigger fights. But in my heart I knew Roy was the slightly better fighter. From 94-04. Roy Jones was really the best fighter in the world, despite what the P4P rankings said. And he wasn't always #1. Just a little food for thought. 

From past mailbags, I can tell you think very highly of both Alexis Arguello and Chocolatito Gonzalez. For the longest time, I know Arguello was seen as Nicaragua’s GOAT. Was curious… do you think that’s still the case? Or has Chocolatito taken that spot? Or if not taken it… do you think he has a case to challenge for it?

What are some arguments for either guy as Nicaragua’s GOAT?

Greg K.

Bread’s Response: I love me some Choc! But Arguello is #1 in the history of Nicaragua. If Arguello beats Pryor in 1982, not only is he the 1st man to win 4 titles in 4 different divisions. He becomes a top 10 ever fighter in that capsule. He would have beaten Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns and Roberto Duran to the feat. All 3 of them won 4 titles in that decade and Arguello would have accomplished it not only 1st but against another ATG fighter in Pryor. The significance of that fight often gets overlooked. Arguello gave his last great push. It took an all time effort and maybe a little something extra by Pryor to overcome him. Because Arguello fought during a more popular time and at a higher weight and he has those HOF wins over Olivares, Chacon and Mancini. And great performances vs Castillo, Limon, Rooney and Escalera. I still give him the edge. But if Choc somehow beats Estrada and avenges his loss to SSR, then man his case gets strong. In terms of who’s better. I honestly can’t tell. It’s that close. Both are exceptional technicians and ko machines. They just go about it differently. Arguello sort of stalks you in a down hill way behind a jab. And Choc is a high rate pressure technician. Great, great fighters. 

Hello, Breadman.

Question: Do you think it’s possible for a person to become a world champion in both boxing and MMA? Or are the two sports so different, that the skills, training, and dedication that are required in each sport simply make it impossible? Or would it take a super athlete and an anomaly on the level of a Bo Jackson or a Deon Sanders to accomplish such a feat, as they did in their own respective sports of baseball and football? What are your thought on this? Thanks.

Bread’s Response: I actually think it can be done in this era. It would just take someone who can pull strings and implement some favorable matchmaking. It would also depend on the division. It won’t happen at heavyweight. But a smaller fighter, who gets moved faster can transition quickly. There have been some standout fighters with kickboxing back grounds, who have really prospered in boxing and they did it quickly. 

Bread-I’m watching DAZN and Sergio Mora said you can develop strength, not power. I’ve read you write about the ways to improve/increase power. I agree with your stance more than Sergio Mora’s opinion.

Speaking of which...you’re great at analyzing and breaking down fights. Would you ever consider or have you ever been approached to do commentary or a podcast? Thinking and speaking on the fly takes great skill and knowledge.

Bread’s Response: Sergio is my boy but that’s just not true. Power can be developed. It’s an archaic concept that punchers can’t be made. I would never say you can turn Ivan Calderon into George Foreman. But you can make a good puncher into a great puncher. And a great puncher into an ATG puncher.

Power= Force x Velocity. So if someone becomes faster and stronger their power will increase. As a fighter goes through camp he starts to punch better. Any coach holding the pads will tell you that. The reason is because the fighter usually gets stronger as camp moves about and he loses weight. So therefore a stronger person is lighter which means he can move his mass around faster. Which generates more power! 

There is no doubt that a fighter can increase his punching power. I would have a healthy debate with anyone who disagrees. If this is the case then why hit a heavy bag? Why do certain exercises? The same way someone can learn to throw harder. The same way someone can learn to run faster. The same way someone can learn to jump higher. Someone can learn to punch harder. All of these are predicated on generating force. The increase may be in small Progressions but it does happen.

Bread,

First and foremost, I hope you and your family are doing well. I'm a fan of your knowledge and life perspective in general. I have a couple of questions for you but they're pretty straight forward.

First, I've always noticed in watching Tyson fight, whenever he was resetting out of a clinch or in general, he would be in a southpaw stance. It's like he had to consciously remind himself to switch back to orthodox all the time. Was he a converted southpaw or was that some weird quirk? Also, I noticed he seemed to be very easy to tie up and didn't work as much as you would expect for someone of his style on the inside. Holmes mentioned during the lead up to the Spinks fight that Tyson isn't physically strong like people think and that he is easy to handle in a clinch. It drove me crazy watching him "submit" to a clinch so often.

You're also an Ali guy like I myself (by way of my pops) so I have a question about him. Do you think Frazier becomes champion if Ali wasn't forced into exile? There's a pretty drastic change pre to post exile Ali but I think Frazier would always be tough for him based on style.

Lastly, what do you think was Mayweather's absolute peak? Accomplishment wise, I say 130 but I feel like his physical peak was his brief stint at 140. He had the near perfect balance of offense and defense and still threw in combination with speed and enough power to stop people.

All the best!

Jerry L. Christian, Owner, Black Bourgeois, www.blackbourgeois.com

Bread’s Response: Mayweather’s peak is the hardest to determine in history. Arguably his best career wins came in 2013 vs Canelo and 2015 vs Pacman. He was 36 and 38. Mayweather’s sustained excellence is on par with Lebron James in basketball, Tom Brady in football and Hank Aaron in baseball. Mayweather never really had valleys. His only career dry spot was at 135lbs. But I don’t think it was the weight or anything. It may have been just a slight slump for whatever reason. Sometimes fighters just go through stuff. But he was 25 when he moved up to 135. So he was in his physical prime. But he struggled with Castillo. Both fights in fact were super close. He had a hard time with Victor Sosa. And then he got back on track and smoked Phillip Ndou. That’s the only time in his career when he struggled over 2 fights in a row. Other than that I just don’t know. Off the top of my head I will say around the time he fought Arturo Gatti, Sharmba Mitchell and Zab Judah. His body and mind seemed equal. When he was younger like when he fought Genaro Hernandez, he would over punch sometimes and he could be bullied by stronger fighters. I’m nitpicking by the way because you asked me. Once he got older his punch output went down somewhat and he didn’t go for stoppages. So somewhere in between that in 2005-06 he was about 28. He was both. What he did to Gatti and Mitchell was just subtle brutal brilliance. 

Frazier would have found a way to win a title regardless. He was special from 1967-71. His peak was too high to not break through.

Yes man physical strength and punching power are different. For as good as Tyson was, you could tie Tyson up. He wasn’t a great grappler. That’s why I always felt Ali would beat him. But I don’t know if Tyson being tied up was a lack of physical strength. I think it was how he was programmed as far as his punch sequence. At a certain point he was programmed to start over. Look at him on the pads. So once he got too close, he had no where to go. Tyson just didn’t have grappling technique like say Andre Ward, who’s really hard to tie up.

Larry Holmes is not the biggest Mike Tyson fan. So as great as he was, you have to understand the source when you hear Holmes speak of Tyson. Holmes surely didn’t tie Tyson up easily. Tyson stopped him rather easily and early.

Bread,

As a trainer I don't expect you're going to like this, but I think there are some virtues a fighter shouldn't stick to, & the main one is loyalty.

A fighter turns pro at around 18 & is usually done by his early 30s. They need to do what is best for them & if that means discarding a coach who's been with them since childhood etc, so be it! Do what is best for you to maximize your short career.

The perfect example is James De Gale. When he turned Pro James went to McDonnell. To me, McDonnell is not a coach, in the way that Emmanuel was or Nacho Beristein or Mayweather Snr is. He can't teach you feinting or head movement or where to hold your gloves in close. McDonnell was really a 'strength & conditioning' guy.  I think people around James thought as a Gold medalist he was so skilled that he didn't need teaching but was lazy so needed the kick McDonnell would give. Big mistake,

Even when James won the European title against a Polish guy he was getting hit a lot more than a skilful fighter should.  That, & his loss to Groves, should've persuaded James to look for a proper trainer but they stuck with McDonnell. At every stage the situation got worse with James taking more punches than he needed to &, often, against good quality opponents, he just seemed lost. He didn't know what to do & McDonnell certainly wasn't in a position to help him!

James stuck with McDonnell through everything, right up to his embarrassing last defeat to Eubank Jnr. A kid who, on talent, shouldn't have been doing anything more than cleaning James' boots! Now his career is over &, TBBH, James has taken a lot more shots than was good for him. If he had ditched McDonnell & gone to a proper trainer (you maybe?) it could all have been so much different.    I'm not expecting you to agree but IMO loyalty ruined James.

Thoughts, Bread?

Bread’s Response: I can’t speak on McDonnell and Degale’s relationship specifically because I don’t know what they do in the gym and how much knowledge McDonnell has. I’m curious to know how you would know what McDonnell knows and what he doesn’t know. I don’t have an issue with any fighter leaving any trainer for whatever reason he chooses. Just like I don’t have an issue with a trainer not wanting to train a fighter anymore. It’s also the trainer’s career and a trainer is represented by the product that gets in that ring. Both sides have a choice. 

I’ve seen it work both ways. I’ve seen fighters like Canelo get told to leave their trainer because he got embarrassed by Floyd Mayweather. He stayed with his trainer and now Eddy Reynoso is the hottest thing in the game. I saw Anthony Joshua get told to leave Robert McCracken because he lost to Andy Ruiz. Joshua stayed with McCracken and got immediate revenge. 

Speaking of Ruiz. I saw Manny Robles do a great job with him and win the heavyweight title on short notice as a big underdog. Then Ruiz shows up out of shape for the rematch and Robles loses his job after Ruiz loses. A fighter has a right to leave his trainer. But I’m still curious as to what Robles did wrong. Did he forget how to train in between the 1st fight and the rematch? I don’t think he did. 

Then you have ATG fighters like Oscar De La Hoya. He went from Robert Alcazar, to Jesus Rivera, to Emanuel Steward, to Floyd Mayweather Sr., To Freddie Roach, to Nacho Beristain.  Oscar was a great fighter but I believe he could have been greater if he stayed with one coach because Oscar’s crucial adjustments in some of his big fights were off at times because trainers have a different solution to different problems. Sometimes the trainer has no more to teach. Sometimes the relationship gets sour and the chemistry leaves. And sometimes the fighter is just not what he thought he was and he needs someone to blame after he loses. Each case should be individually judged.

Hey Bread, I wanted to get your expert opinion on something that I have always been curious about. There has always been some regional variation in how basic boxing craft is taught- Brits stand up real straight, Mexicans are more likely to fight with a crouch, Eastern Bloc guys don’t often get taught inside fighting, etc. I can see how different places might have developed independently but I am intrigued at why those distinctions remain as much as they do as much as everyone has seen everyone else fight; if there was one proper way you would expect it to be discovered through trial and error. So why, for instance, will UK fighters still stand so upright after they have seen the success of other countries that don’t? One theory I have considered is that it is based on how much a nation’s boxing culture is geared to the amateurs and their different rules.  I have also wondered however if the different tactics are based on trainers doing the right thing with the physical dimensions of the fighter; after all, if most Russians are heavyweights and most Japanese fighters are flyweights that could make a difference. Or is it just cultural?

Thanks, Luke from South Carolina

Bread’s Response: This is an awesome question. It will bring about some prejudiced views but all prejudging is not inaccurate. Trainers teach what they know and what they are familiar with. The better trainers adapt and continue to learn so they can continue to teach. 

If you notice you will see Mexican trainers try to incorporate more speed in their training to overcome the often time speed disadvantage when they face black fighters. And more black trainers work on inside work to overcome that disadvantage when they face Mexican fighters. It’s important to expand. 

I have also observed that fighters gravitate to their own race. The better Cuban fighters usually go to Pedro Diaz or Ismael Salas. The better black fighters go to Ronnie Shields, Derrick James, Virgil Hunter etc. The better Mexican Fighters go to Eddy Reynoso and Robert Garcia. No one talks about this out loud but it happens too often to be a coincidence. 

Subconsciously most people have a bias or prejudice. I have argued with fighters and trainers who believe that certain races can’t teach the opposite race of fighters. I don’t believe that for one minute. I’ve seen too much in my life to be that narrow minded. With enough talent and open mindedness anyone can adapt. The Petronelli’s and Cus Dmato had too much success training black fighters from early on for me to believe that a trainer from a different race can’t train a fighter from an opposite race. Just like I saw the good job that Emanuel Steward did with Wlad Klitschko. And the job Freddie Roach did with James Toney. 

But for the most part a person’s natural rhythm and body type should dictate how he’s taught to fight. But it shouldn’t limit his canvas. As he gets the basics down, it’s nothing wrong with a fighter being exposed to different cultures of training. It’s up to the trainer to be well rounded and not box a fighter in. Trainers need to get better as well as fighters.

In boxing the matchmakers can’t say it openly but they know what backgrounds are trouble. If you see a black kid from an urban areas like New York, Philly, DC, Baltimore, Detroit or Ohio you know he will have some rhythm to his game and he won’t be an easy night’s work. You won’t match a slower Latino prospect with a kid from one of those areas until you’re sure about him. When the matchmakers see an Eastern Euro fighter. Most times they equate them to be punchers. Uk fighters are known to be sound fundamentally but they don’t have the layers that American fighters have overall. If you listen to Kell Brook talk about his fight with Terence Crawford you will get exactly what I’m saying. The cultural teachings of boxing is a real thing. I’m glad you recognized it. But again. It can be overcame with a trainer who is willing to keep learning and an open minded fighter.  

Bread,

Congrats on a great performance with Kyrone Davis. Tell him well done young man. The fact that he can make 154lbs and compete. Look strong and have the chin amazed me. I had the fight 113-115 to Kyrone. What has been lost is it was a damn good match. Only just finished watching it cause they didn’t show it in England. I was screaming for some more bodyshots from Kyrone and the jab. I thought his left hook and counter right hand were money. Question what is the harder jump in boxing 140-147? 160-168? 175-200?I feel it’s the 160-168. When you look at the size of the men that fight at 168 are 5’11 and above they are big strong. Only seen a few make the transition well. Jermaine from London 

Bread’s Response: Thanks. I thought he did great. He took that fight on short notice with no fight to prepare for a fighter one fight removed from being a champion and Kyrone handled himself more than well. I thought he won and I don’t like consolation prizes a draw represents. 

I think what happened in the scoring is something that happens often. The judges and commentary gives the FAMILIAR fighter credit for what they think should be happening instead of what actually happened. What was assumed is Kyrone would have to walk forward and put pressure on Dirrell in order to win and he had no chance of “boxing”. But what happened was, he was boxed on an in and out bounce. What was assumed was Kyrone’s arms were shorter because his height is shorter. But in actuality they have basically the same arm length and Kyrone is faster. What was assumed was Dirrell would ko, hurt and control Kyrone because he has so many more kos. But what happened is he didn’t hurt or control Kyrone. Kyrone took his punches well. 

But it’s boxing and you can’t cry the blues when you lose, just grin when you win. Next time the masses should be more familiar with Kyrone Davis and he hopefully he gets more credit on the scorecards. The biggest jump in boxing in my opinion is from 160-168. The body types are different at 168 and I think it’s why often times great middleweight champions do not decide to move up.

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