By Stephen 'Breadman' Edwards
The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen 'Breadman' Edwards giving his thoughts on Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez vs. Amir Khan, Errol Spence Jr., light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, welterweight champion Kell Brook, and more.
What's up Breadman,
As a long time boxing fan, I really enjoy your column. My dad took me to my first fight in June of 1975: Bennie Briscoe vs. Kitten Hayward, promoted by the legendary J.Russell Peltz. I've been hooked since then! This brings me to my question for you: In your opinion, with all due respect to Bernard Hopkins, if he was fighting back in the 1970's, would he be a dominant world champion or just another tough Philly middleweight?
Hopkins, through no fault of his own, came along when the middleweight division was at a low point. Back in the 1970's Briscoe, Hart, Monroe, & Watts were the best in Philly & the World! Marvin Hagler came down from Boston & went through battles with them that shaped his career. I would love to know where you think Hopkins would fit in with those greats from the past. By the way, I'm really impressed with Julian Williams. To me, he's one of the best at 154 lbs. right now. Good luck to both of you in the future...Dan Ward Springfield Pa.
Bread’s Response: This is one of the best questions I have ever received. It’s really hard to compare eras and here is why. With legal and illegal recovery methods fighter’s bodies look different in this current era. On top of that they fight less. Fighting twice a year will preserve the body. And if you are “connected” you can be an ok talent and hold a world title for 3 or more years. Or often times become a 3 or 4 division champion.
From the 90’s on back, in order for you to be a three division champion or the man in your division, for three or more years, you had to be a “great” fighter. In this era it’s common and lots of the guys doing it are not great fighters. That’s why I try not to compare but since you asked me I will.
Bernard Hopkins would be a great fighter in any era he ever competed in. He’s too disciplined, too fundamentally sound and too well conditioned not to be. He would find a way to breakthrough.
But your question to me is would he be dominant in the 70’s. Lot’s of the old timers in Philly believe all of the 70’s middleweights would beat Hopkins. I don’t believe that. I believe Hopkins would hold his own and win more than he lost vs all of the fighters you named. But the problem is he would have to fight those killers multiple times. On top of that Carlos Monzon, Rodrigo Valdez, Marvin Hagler, Emille Griffith and Sugar Ray Seales would be lurking. No middleweight ever is going 10 years undefeated against that crop of killers. It’s just not going to happen.
So yes I think Hopkins would have broken through and grabbed a title. I think he would have won more than he lost in his big fights. But the accumulation of killer after killer and all time greats hovering would have taken it’s toll. He would have taken some bumps in the road as well as given some bumps out.
Your commentary is always on point!
Kovalev is a RACIST, that t-shirt was specially made to show Stevenson as an ape. That means it was thought out. I’m also sure that whomever Kovalev hired to make those shirts made more than one of them!
That being said Pascal played that tune too long to try and frazzle Kovalev and it didn’t work! Pascal talked too much and prepared too little in my opinion. Whatever work Pascal was doing with Roach didn’t seem to translate into ring generalship, effective aggression, defense or clean and hard punching, except on Kovalev’s part.
Pascal lacks boxing discipline to go with the obvious physical attributes he has. I think that Pascal would be better served working with Floyd Sr, rather than Roach. I f Pascal was a talented raw puncher/boxer than Roach would be his man. Pascal needs solid technique and especially defense if he’s going to rise to the top again. When Pascal starts feeling the heat his technique goes out the window and he reverts to a guy that’s being beaten up by a bully and doesn’t know what to do!
For a man who seems to have done everything right inside and OUTSIDE of the ring Andre Ward’s army of naysayers (haters) is growing. Yeah he’s been inactivate but he never fails to compete, and I don’t think that changes against Kovalev. Kovalev can BOX – in a limited way, most of his opponents have been more limited then he in that category too. Against Hopkins, seems to me the cagey veteran missed something in his preparation. Kovalev didn’t respond to Hopkins feints or attempts to draw him in like they figured. Kovalev was able to successfully counter the counterpuncher in that one, and once he took Hopkins countering success away he went in for the kill. I believe after a warmup fight, maybe two, Ward not easily but impressively beats Kovalev. I don’t see nothing impressive about Kovalev, Main Events like TR knows how to build a fighter into a star off of limited opposition.
Khan challenging Canelo is BOLD but Khan doesn’t have the COMBINATION of attributes to BEAT Canelo. Canelo isn’t a fast thinker but he doesn’t have to be for the way he fights, Khan needs to synchronize his thinking with his speed of movement and keep them in sync. When Khan gets ahead of himself in a fight he gets lost in the fight and that’s what he needs to avoid. If Khan can remain within himself and sit down on his technique he can win, but he also needs great defense for this, which he lacks. In the back of Khan’s mind there’s that KO loss to Prescott and to Garcia which will rise to the surface if Khan feels he’s in peril, then he’ll panic and fall apart instead of remaining composed. Khan will need more than speed to beat Canelo and he’s not solid in those areas, Algieri exposed that. Canelo has the same type of awkwardness like Danny Garcia to really hurt Khan. Khan will get stopped badly in this fight. His team better be ready to throw in the towel early rather than late. This fight won’t even be competitive, but, Khan was the biggest name out there so it’ll sell a lot of PPV’s!
Bread’s Response: You make some great points and we usually agree….Let me touch your comment point by point.
I never gave it much thought if Kovalev’s T shirt was especially made for Stevenson. But if it was I wouldn’t say it automatically makes him a racist but it would lead the consensus thought process in that direction. That’s a question someone needs to ask him on the Fight Game.
I also agree about Pascal’s talking too much. What Kovalev did was old as far as the T shirt? It seemed to me that Pascal was trying to turn people against Kovalev. But Pascal should have realized he wasn’t running for office. Kovalev thrives off of being the bad guy. You don’t go from town to town beating fighters and care if the crowd is against you. But we will disagree on what trainer Pascal needs. I don’t think a trainer in the world can help Pascal at this point. Kovalev has ruined Pascal. One more big fight for Pascal and that will be his severance pay in boxing. He’s a blood and guts warrior and he deserves better than to be used up.
Here is our biggest disagreement. I am very impressed with Sergey Kovalev. He does subtle things that offensive killers don’t get credit for. Kovalev lands his biggest and best shots consistently. Lots of fighters can’t land their money punch on a consistent basis. Krusher hits everybody with that right hand multiple times. That tells me his timing is superb. He also finds his rhythm in every fight and he goes to work and shortly after he knocks you out. That tells me he has good instincts. I think we are looking at a top 25 light heavyweight ever right at this moment. The most impressive thing about Kovalev to me is his improvement. I saw him fight Darnell Boone the second time. He was a little gangly and quite frankly green compared to where he is today.
I think HBO has done a great job in making Kovalev into what he is. They do it with all of their regulars. The commentary is complimentary and each fighter takes on a super hero character. I won’t complain about Kovalev’s opposition because he has been destroying the best available fighter. That’s all you can ask.
I also agree that Ward will beat Kovalev in a high pace chess match. But Ward has to get busy and fight consistently. He’s one of the most inactive legitimately great fighters of the last decade.
I am also picking Canelo. I actually think Canelo’s IQ is too high for Khan. I didn’t like how Khan blamed everybody under the sun after his performance vs Algieri. He just couldn’t give Algieri credit for fighting a good fight. Khan is ambitious but mentally he’s all over the place and I don’t think he can help it.
Great mailbag this morning. I knew "Khanelo" would be a hot topic, lol. You lost me with the racial stuff at the end though. Please fill me in. The way I understand it is, Kovalev put a pic on Twitter of himself standing next to some kid and this kid had a shirt with a gorilla on it. (If there is more to the story then I'm unaware of it). Now, this has been misconstrued as Kovalev saying that Stevenson and all black men are gorillas. He never said anything that. However I know who ACTUALLY called a black man a gorilla and that was Ali. No outrage. I know who compared Sam Peter to a monkey and that was James toney. No outrage. B-Hop... "Never lose to a white boy". Now he's a respected HBO commentator. But yet Kovalev and his people need to do an interview with HBO to explain himself? No explanation needed. I also follow Doug fischer's mailbag. That poor guy catches all kinds of crap with him being bi-racial. He makes an innocent comment questioning mayweather's legacy then next thing you know he's got a dozen morons writing in questioning his "blackness" and "oh you must not have enough black in you". It's craziness. And this is something that ONLY black people do. Only black people break down another human being by their racial DNA. You're never gonna hear boxing fans say "oh hey, you like Tyson Fury? Well you must have some Sweedish in your blood, that guy is uncoordinated as hell, you're not a "real" white guy". In out society, Bread, if a white guy is racist it's the end all, be all. Forget about it. Your labeled, your career is finished. However a black man making racist comments is widely accepted and sometimes even encouraged.
Bread’s Response: What are you talking about? I have never heard one person say Kovalev said “all black men are gorillas.” Where did you pull that one from? Kovalev has made more than one distasteful racial comment and gesture and he’s being called on it. Specifically in the Adonis Stevenson case Kovalev took the picture withhe little boy who had a monkey on his shirt with boxing gloves and Kovalev made the statement “Adonis looks great.” To my knowledge he also made a controversial statement about Ishmayl Syllahk who is black but I don’t know that statement verbatim.
You bring up Ali’s comments. But they did a documentary on Ali’s mistreatment of Joe Frazier. They last fought in 1975 and Ali has been answering and being held accountable for his comments for over 40 years. Bernard Hopkins also was held accountable for his comments prior to his fight with Joe Calzaghe. If you don’t think Kovalev should be interviewed and asked about his comments that’s fine, we will just disagree.
Since you brought up Tyson Fury he was asked about his comments about gays and women. He was held accountable. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Also Fury and his family members talk about how they were discriminated against because they were gypsies. Last time I checked Fury is white.
For the record I’m not outraged by Kovalev’s actions. I’m not calling for HBO to take his contract. I’m not calling for him to be banned from boxing. Nothing surprises me when it comes to down to ones personal feelings. However I do feel like if you feel a certain way, then “own” it, especially if you make those feelings public. No one asked him to take the picture. No one violated his privacy and captured private audio or video of him. He chose to put the picture on social media. So now some people want him to explain….What’s the biggie? I think it’s a legit repercussion for his actions. One more thing. If what he did wasn’t wrong, why did he take the picture down?
I am a big fan and avid reader. I just wanted to touch on your last mail bag when you said it is not illegal to be racist in reference to Kovalev. I think you have to be a little careful there, as racism coupled with certain behaviour is against the law. Having racist beliefs is not illegal, but if you act on them in a way that can be deemed offensive or aggressive they can be. I just thought it was a little irresponsible to write that as there are a lot of young readers and posters on the forum and they might interpret that incorrectly.
Anyway I just wanted to get that out there as I hate racism, but keep up the good work I always look out for your mailbag. Have a great day.
Bread’s Response: Now this email is from the other end of the spectrum. Kovalev didn’t couple his comments with anything else my friend. You did! So I wasn’t irresponsible. If a young reader reads my comments and he draws a different conclusion then that reader is being irresponsible. Kovalev did NOT break the law. It’s not up for debate. He’s not a teacher working for the school board or a University. He’s not a public servant like a police officer or correctional officer. Let’s just go by the facts and not try to add anything else. As distasteful as the picture was, it wasn’t a crime. Don’t add variables to satisfy your subjective preference. It’s important to always be objective in these cases.
Obviously I’m not a fan of racism but I will lose credibility if I can’t be objective.
What's up Bread? Love your training work and mailbag work. I think plenty of boxing people are very high on Errol Spence Jr. with good reason. I think he is a very very talented young fighter. With Spence about to fight to become the mandatory to Kell Brook if wins. How do you feel about that fight? Do you think Brook is to big of a jump up in talent for Spence? Where would put this fight in terms favorites? I think it should be around 60/40 in favor of Brook. How do you think such a fight would play with each fighters strengths and weaknesses? Just for the record I'm picking Porter over Thurman.
Bread’s Response: Honestly if I was Spence I would rather be the mandatory to Danny Garcia or Keith Thurman but some reason Spence is not rated as high in those sanctioning bodies. If you remember correctly Thurman was the guy Spence was going after and Floyd Mayweather even helped him issue the challenge. I believe Team Spence saw something in Thurman.
Kell Brook is just a different fighter than Thurman. I believe Brook is at least a top 15 p4p fighter in the world. He seems to have everything. He’s very well proportioned. He’s calm. He has solid fundamentals. He’s a good straight puncher and he’s very physically strong. His title winning performance over Shawn Porter was extremely impressive. Porter is an extremely strong and rugged fighter and Brook handled him physically and technically. That showed me a lot.
The only weakness I see in Brook is his outside of ring behavior. The stabbing incident came off as bizarre to me. And Brook took an extremely long time to step up. He had over 30 fights and was a pro over 9 years before he was ready for the big time. I know everyone progresses at a different pace but something tells me out of the ring character held him back because physically he’s there.
I believe in Spence and I think he’s the goods but I agree with you he has his hands full with Brook. I think by the end of this year it will be a 50/50 fight. Spence is not super fast but he steps into you and invades your space so it allows him to hit you how he wants. He also punches into you and has good timing. He’s not what you call a sharpshooter like Brook but he’s just as accurate because of his positioning. His hands are always in position to punch. He’s also a tremendous body puncher and he has a serious workrate for a welterweight. He can fight on the inside and outside and his infighting will serve him well vs Brook. Spence’s only real weakness in my opinion is his “defensive reflexes”. He doesn’t see incoming shots well. But he keeps his hands up and he keeps his opponent’s on the defensive so the flaw rarely gets exploited.
Most UK fighters don’t work well on the inside but Brook is adequate there. It’s just not his A level of working. He likes it more in the midrange or outside. The thing is though when you invade Brook’s space he doesn’t panic he stays relaxed and he’s very accurate with his punches. This will be a great fight if it ever happens but there is a lot of room between the cup and the lip. Let’s see how things play out.
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