The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with a Extra Edition for Sunday, as Stephen "Breadman" Edwards tackles topics such as Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennadiy Golovkin trilogy, Mike Tyson vs. Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield, and more.
Massive fan of the mailbag, hope you and your loved ones are safe in these testing times.
Was listening to Mike Tyson talk the other day about when fighters hit their primes at different times/ages and even some young fighters are never better than in their teenage years.
I don't want to go down the the rabbithole of who wins prime Ali vs prime Tyson, but just made me reconsider in terms of I always would have seen this as a prime Ali (66 Cleveland Williams perhaps) vs the unified champ version of Tyson 87-89
However possibly the prime Mike Tyson to defeat Ali would have been the pre world champion version prior to the death of Cus D'Amato. I know its well publicised his training was never the same after Cus's death but i also think it may have been his ability to shield Tyson from Ali's mind games that could have made the difference. Mike talks about how Cus made him feel invincible and Ali was the master of maingames, when people talk about fantasy matchups you don't often hear a lot of consideration to the build up. I think Ali gets to all versions of Tyson mentally pre fight, except maybe the pre champion version with Cus in his corner.
Keen to hear how you think this could be factored in, metally and physically fit Tyson was a killer...could anyone have lived with that? (Not trying to say Tyson wins just keen to hear thoughts)
Also as a boxing historian can you give any insight into how fighters were able to use mindgames in fight build ups prior to the era of TV interviews and 12 week fight build ups?
Tom, Bristol UK
Bread’s Response: Mike Tyson is correct. Everyone is different. So therefore everyone hits their PEAK at different points. Prime and PEAK are also different. Prime is the time when a fighter is at his best. PEAK is during the prime but it’s the highest POINT of the PRIME.
I think Mike Tyson PEAKED vs Michael Spinks in 1988. But I don’t give him the excuse that everyone else does for losing to Buster Douglas in 1990 because he was just 23 years old. Even if he wasn’t at his peak for that fight, he was still in his prime.
Ali’s prime was from 64-67 with Cleveland Williams being the PEAK/APEX performance. But here is the thing. Some of the things you do close to your prime have to be considered.
Just like Tyson deserves credit for turning back a determined hard punching Razor Ruddock in 1991. Ali deserves credit for his run from 1970-78 where he fought about half of his career fights and won 2 more titles.
There are certain things you have to factor in when things aren’t going your way. You can’t expect a fighter to be in peak form for every single fight even if they are in their primes. They should still be able to be great without being in the ZONE.
I love Mike Tyson and I think he’s a top 10ish heavyweight ever. I think he’s getting more and more underrated as time goes on. But because he was offensively dynamic and he scored so many kos, sometimes he may get overrated also in head to head match ups. Going by everything we know it’s hard for me to pick him against Ali on their best days. I do believe it would be competitive. I do think Tyson would so some damage. But winning is different. He wouldn’t have much of a chance in a 15 round fight. And in a 12 rounder I can see him winning some rounds but not the fight.
Ali is different my man. Just think about this. We were watching him at his athletic best in the 60s and there were signs that he had great character in the Henry Cooper and Sonny Liston fights. But we didn’t know yet what he was on the inside. He had the character of a Honey Badger. The character of a Pit Bull. Ali was William Wallace from Braveheart.
I think a Cus Dmato trained Tyson would have possibly lasted longer in his prime. But who knows. We have to remember that Dmato died before Tyson won the title. With the title brings women, money and power which becomes intoxicating. Successful men have sexual urges and that would be hard for any trainer to regulate. Tyson likes pretty women just like any other successful powerful man.
A fighter changes as he gets older, has children and a woman becomes part of his life. Sometimes for the better, often times for the worse. Cus Dmato may have been able to get Tyson to do things as a teenager that he may not have been able to get him to do as he got older. Trust me it’s a difference in telling a grown successful man what to do, than it is an eager hungry kid. If I had a choice I would take the eager hungry kid anyday. You have so many things to factor in. You also have to factor in Dmato’s tolerance level. At a certain point you get tired of telling a kid what’s good and bad for him. Sometimes after you say something ONCE and he does what he wants to do you let the chips fall where they may. It’s less stressful.
So while I think Tyson is a handful for anyone on his best days. We dismiss the fact that Dmato had him as a small boy up until a teenager. He didn’t train the MAN, Mike Tyson who could literally have any women he wanted and blow 20 million in one day. Over time whatever is in you, comes out of you. You also have to consider Tyson had one of the earliest peaks of any fighter in history. Especially for a heavyweight who usually peak later.
Dear Breadman: I pray all is well with you and Your love ones. To this day My Brother and I go back and forth about who would have Won if Tyson and Holyfield would have fought when they were first Scheduled to do so? What would have been the outcome with Kevin Rooney still as Mike's Trainer? Would it have ended up a trilogy as well? What are your thoughts? I seek Your Insight. Thank You.
Bread’s Response: I don’t think Holyfield and Tyson were scheduled to fight while Kevin Rooney was Tyson’s trainer. Holyfield moved up to heavyweight in 1988. If I’m not mistaken Rooney’s last fight with Tyson was his fight with Michael Spinks which happened in the summer of 1988.
Holyfield fought a series of fights to get acclimated to the weight. He became the #1 contender. I believe they were going to fight in in 1990 but Tyson took a showcase fight against Buster Douglas and he lost. I know for a fact they were going to fight after Tyson beat Razor Ruddock in the rematch but Tyson went to jail. At neither of those points was Tyson being trained by Kevin Rooney.
Basically your asking me if Tyson would have fought Holyfield before he went to jail would the outcome have been different. That’s possible. The best form that Tyson showed after being trained by Kevin Rooney was his comeback fights after the Douglas loss. He was brutal vs Alex Steward, Henry Tillman and Razor Ruddock. He showed chops vs Ruddock.
But again I don’t want to pile up on my man Mike Tyson. I really admire the cat. And while I think Tyson has a better chance vs Holyfield than he does Ali. I still like Holyfield to beat him. For some reason Holyfield is the puncher when they fight. I don’t know what it is about Tyson’s punches but they don’t affect Holyfield the way Lewis’s or Bowe’s did. I don’t know if it was the angle of the punches or that Holyfield just had Tyson’s punch cadence down. But Holyfield was always doing more damage to Tyson than Tyson was to him. That’s huge.
And for the record they fought in 1996. While Tyson was not at his peak anymore. You could slippage from the Tyson of the 1980s. Holyfield wasn’t either. Holyfield is 4 years older than Tyson and he had just been kod by Riddick Bowe the year before. In fact after the Tyson series and Holyfield’s win over Michael Moorer the next year, he dropped off also and never had another GREAT win. So it’s not like when they fought Holyfield was so much fresher.
I can see a case where Tyson wins in 1992. I can see maybe a 3 fight series. But if you’re asking me to pick. I say Holyfield would have always beaten him. For some reason he was physically stronger and he was the puncher when they fought. Holyfield was the only guy I saw that could not only back Tyson up but bully him and punch on him while backing him up. It’s a tough match up on the skill sets for Tyson because Holyfield is a better inside fighter. He goes to Tyson’s body which no one ever does because Tyson is short. Holyfield has a nice catch and counter game that exploits Tyson’s hooks. And last but not least Holyfield catches a better 2nd WIND. In a WAR that counts for a lot. Both would get fatigued but Holyfield seemed to function better while being fatigued.
How are you ?
I really liked your exemple for a good fighter can be a bad coach (the brain surgery), that was a perfect exemple ! I would like to add one, I worked in a sport center, and most of the time people get fouled by the way you look :
- You are in shape : you will have the best programs
- You are out of shape : the will be skeptics about your programs
But I understand that they think you know what you are talking about because you are practicing it and it works. And think that's the same with boxing !
Always love the way you analyze the psychological apsect of boxing, I think that's what seperate the goods from the greats. The coach' qualities are just as important as the fighter's qualities in my opinion.
Please could you tell us fights that are perfect examples of how to neutralize a fighter's strenght (I know there's not only one way to do it but the perfect example for you):
- slow fighter vs quick fighter
- non tecnician fighter vs tecnician fighter
- non puncher vs puncher
Thanks for your time !
Max from France
Bread’s Response: Certain stereotypes are actually accurate. The government actually uses profile data with stereotypes. But in boxing we are so primitive with our thought process we will repeat a MYTH of a stereotype that has been disproven too many times to be an EXCEPTION.
In boxing we often try to contain who can coach and who can’t. From what I’ve seen it’s simply the intelligent person who understands what he’s teaching and has the ability to articulate it to the fighter. Being an ex fighter does help because it gives you some understanding. Being someone who has boxed at some level and at least sparred and trained also helps you relate. But as we have seen it’s not a requirement. The reason we know this is because too many trainers have been successful without the backgrounds.
Ok let’s see.
Slow Fighter vs Quick Fighter. I think you should have labeled it Slow Fighter vs Faster Fighter. But you can be quick without being fast. Alexis Arguello vs Alfredo Escalera. Arguello wasn’t slow, he just wasn’t a speed demon and he fought calculated. But he was slower than Escalera. But Arguello timed Escalera with a jab. He kept it on him to a point where he could predict his response to it. When the slower fighter can predict the faster fighter’s responses to a move he becomes faster because his mind will react quicker.
This is why I say quickness is in the mind. Speed is in the body. When you’re mind thinks quick you may not be able to generate more speed over a longer sequence. But you will be quicker over a short burst. If you watch the 13th round of Arguello vs Escalera, Escalera reached for Arguello’s jab. Arguello had been killing with it all night. When Escalera went to reach for it, BOOM Arguello turned a hook and the fight was OVER. He knew the more twitchy Escalera would reach for that shot and hook was already in the chamber ready to shoot.
Slower Fighter vs Faster Fighter is the hardest to overcome. It takes great skill and timing to overcome this.
Non Technician vs Technician. I will use Marcos Maidana vs Floyd Mayweather. Some wonder how Maidana gave Floyd a tougher fight than more skilled technical fighters like Canelo because Canelo is clearly better than Maidana.
The reason being is Maidana overwhelmed Floyd in spots. He fought him in a way where Floyd’s technical skills didn’t always get to show because he was defending himself vs savagery. The reason why Maidana was capable of giving Floyd such a tough tussle was because he simply didn’t wait. He didn’t wait for Mayweather’s beautiful jab and pull counter. He didn’t wait for Floyd’s beautiful lead hook. He just straight rushed him and turned it into a different type of fight where technical ability is not as prominent. Maidana turned a boxing match into a FIGHT.
Ricardo Mayorga vs Vernon Forest is also a great example. Don’t wait. Put the technical fighter at a disadvantage because he’s defending himself vs getting killed. He doesn’t have time to execute the things that make him technically superior.
Non Puncher vs Puncher I would say Bernard Hopkins vs Tito Trinidad. Hopkins can punch too but I know you get why I used this fight. Tito was considered the puncher in the fight.
Every puncher has their power zone. They have a place where they do the most damage. They have a set where they generate the most power. Hopkins kept a great jab on Trinidad all night which off set his power. He stayed on the balls of his feet all night giving Trinidad a non stationary target. It’s extremely hard to get MAX power while you are moving. Then in close he didn’t allow Tito to bump with his shoulder and get room. He mugged him in the clinches and stole punches on his flank and hips.
Hopkins did not let Trinidad step into anything with max leverage. He kept him out of his power zone.
Out of the examples you gave me this happens the most in boxing. I can give you so many times where the non puncher did this to the puncher. But Hopkins vs Tito was one of the best performances in boxing history and it stands out to me.
Mayweather vs Corrales and Barrera vs Hamed are also classic cases of this and ironically they all took place in 2001.
Hey bread -
Hope all the best for you during this global pandemic. Only want to touch up on 1 question. In one of your last bags you were discussing last stands and I wanted to revisit this discussion, especially when it pertains to Golovkin. To date, he has been my favorite fighter to watch in boxing, so it has been tough to watch his demise, athletically. I'm writing because I'm really hoping you can deeply delve into the upcoming trilogy bout w/ Canelo and the likelihood we see Golovkin pull out a "last stand" or continue to show signs of decline. There are several things I'm hoping you can touch on in this analysis:
First, the style of fight we're likely to see both fighters employ in the third fight. Will Canelo stay to the outside and focus on countering or will he try and push back the puncher. I've rewatched the first two fights many times and, while the optics of the first fight (for Canelo) presented a "runner", I actually thought he landed the most significant power shots on GGG during the first 12 rounds of their 24. Whereas, I think the optics of the rematch (for Canelo), presented "toughness", but I do think he got nailed with harder shots, more frequently, employing that tactic.
Second, the challenges that both fighters will face leading into this fight. Canelo will be dropping 15 pounds for this fight. Golovkin, meanwhile, looked bad in his first fight under Banks (against Rolls), and struggled significantly against Derevyanchenko. I actually don’t put much stock into his purported decline vs. Derevyanchenko, I did think SD employed some underhanded tactics like a lot of pushing down on the head and borderline low shots that the ref didn’t warn away, let alone stop. But, I’m wondering if from what you’ve seen with a trainer’s eye, his match w Banks just isn’t working stylistically or is working well, but not evident to a fan?
Third, I’m hoping if you can touch on “hunger”. I sense that there will be a shift in mentality for the first in this trilogy. For the first time, I think that Golovkin will be the hungrier of the two fighters. In the first, Golovkin was still the “boogeyman” and the narrative of Canelo ducking him repeatedly revolved around the sport. In the rematch, Canelo had the controversy of clenbuterol surrounding him that Golovkin played on. In both, I think Canelo was hungrier, by far, to prove he was equal to and up to the task of shutting Golovkin up. How would a shift in this affect the outcome of the third fight?
Finally, I’m hoping you can discuss the actual decline of Golovkin. How much can be attributed to mental issues after his loss to Canelo that may have distracted him from properly training for Rolls and Derevyanchenko and making the sacrifices he used to to have an edge over that level of fighter? In another article on Boxingscene, it was implied that Golovkin has been tormented since 9/18 and getting the trilogy will allow him to put those demons to bed. Again, if that’s the case, it would imply we see (for the first time in this series) Golovkin being the hungrier fighter leading up to the fight. It would imply he comes into this with better preparation than he did previously.
How will the third fight end, in your opinion? Can we explain his decline away to a loss of love with the sport, after feeling robbed in the rematch? Implying we may see a last stand. Or, from what you’ve seen in your experience w fighters, is there too much mileage in him and Canelo will likely get the stoppage?
Thanks, as always.
Bread’s Response: If GGG legitimately wins his trilogy fight with Canelo then he’s an ATG. He goes from being a HOF to an ATG. I know this is unfair but boxing is not always fair.
Hunger is viewed in relation to the stomach but it’s in the mind. It’s the perception of your personal motivation. Hunger is the ultimate motivation. I think GGG will have great motivation for this fight. He has to know that people are doubting him and his legacy.
Canelo is well rounded. It’s hard to pinpoint what style he will implement. A fight is fluid. High IQ boxers can freestyle. But I think his main premise will be to “STEP TO” GGG. He challenged him and stepped to him in the rematch. He took big shots but he established his presence.
I noticed slippage in GGG around the time of his fights with Kell Brook and Danny Jacobs. In the Jacobs fight, GGG pressed as much as he could but Jacobs did not let him do what he wanted. It was sort of suggested that GGG let Kell Brook last a few rounds. Punches to the face hurt and Brook stunned him. He didn’t let Brook do anything.
From then on he’s been burning the candle. Sort of the same way Chocolatito was when he fought Cuadras. GGG is one of the few fighters who openly ask for VADA. He’s not tall. He’s not fast. He has over 300 amateur fights. The reasonable time for him to slip would be his mid 30s and that’s when he started to slip. Now he’s in his late 30s.
GGG’s PUSH in the Canelo rematch was legendary. I thought he was down on points and he just simply went into animal mode. He took Canelo to the brink and made the fight close and controversial. I was standing up as GGG was making his stand at a fight party.
I think the dilemma for GGG is how does he prepare for this fight. Does he train like he used to and possibly burn himself out? Long runs, long rounds. Endurance training. Or…Does he do a more modern camp? Explosive training. How does he do his diet? I don’t know. GGG needs a SPARK and I don’t know how he will get it. I have an idea but I don’t want to get into it. I just respect him and I wish him the best.
In boxing most won’t admit it but we defy the laws of sports science. In boxing the fighters lose to weight and then take direct blows to their organs. In other sports the athletes gain weight to absorb blows. In boxing some believe it’s an endurance sport. They believe in long runs to build the endurance. But others believe that boxing is an explosive sport and long runs don’t help. They believe sprints and explosive exercises are what’s needed to train and that the long runs are primitive.
I personally believe that boxing is unique and you need both forms of conditioning. Explosive and Endurance. GGG and his team will have to figure it out for this fight. All of the marbles are on the line.
I would never give an ABSOLUTE prediction on a fighter I respect as much as I respect GGG. I would never count out a fighter like GGG. His heart and determination are severely underrated. All we talk about is his power and chin. But GGG is an animal. He has next level heart. But age is undefeated. Time is undefeated. I hope he can come in and be his best version of himself. It’s a tough battle and Canelo deserves to be a CLEAR favorite. Let’s see what happens.
Last mailbag, you answered a question about SRL and RJJ. In your answer, you showed your multi-sport background. My two favorite sports are boxing and baseball. So I was quite impressed when you compared Leonard to Sandy Koufax and Jones to Willie Mays. I thought both comparisons were SPOT-ON! Got me wondering about one pitcher who was slightly before my time: Greg Maddux (sorta… I was a little guy when Maddux was at his best). I promise, this has to do with boxing, I’m getting to it. My Dad would go on and on about Maddux’s focus on command, control and finesse. He also talked about his sharp mind, and how he talks about pitching the way surgeons talk about the brain.
So, with that in mind, which boxer (or boxers) would you describe as “Greg Maddux of Boxing”? Three boxers from the recent/current era stand out to me: Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Andre Ward, and Vasyl Lomachenko. I think all three have finesse and sharp minds like Maddux. But I have a hard time picking because they go about applying their sharp minds differently. Let me illustrate my point.
If there were competitions to solve puzzles like.. say… a Rubik’s cube: Loma would use one hand to shuffle and solve his cube and the other to further shuffle and frustrate his opponent trying to solve his. Ward would solve his cube at a steady pace… well, he’d solve it with a sense of urgency, but he’d maintain his composure while his opponent became untethered and surrendered. I could see Floyd sitting around watching others trying to solve, documenting their triumphs and learning their errors to make his efforts much easier. What do you think, Breadman? They apply their sharp minds in different ways, but they possess sharp minds that enable them to uncannily detect their opponent’s weaknesses… just like Maddux. Thoughts?
Bread’s Response: I’m glad you “GOT” my other sport analogies. It went over some folk’s heads.
I saw Maddux in entire his prime. Wow was he something. I would say the Greg Maddux of boxing would be Andre Ward. Maddux was always the best or one of the best but without a big time fastball. Without an 100mph heater. I think Ward is extremely athletic but his athleticism is not viewed as his strong point. Same as Maddux who wasn’t considered a power pitcher but still an ELITE ACE. Ward had a compromised right hand for most of his career so he relied on other things that didn’t wow you but got the job done. Both are simply WINNERS. They do it with skill, focus, IQ and consistency. And I will tell you what’s ironic. Maddux and Ward are both about 6ft tall and weight around 170lbs.
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