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Daily Bread Mailbag - Extra Edition: Rigondeaux, Tyson, More

The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with another Extra Edition, as Stephen "Breadman" Edwards tackles topics such as Naseem Hamed, Juan Manuel Marquez, Mike Tyson, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and more.

Peace and blessings Breadman,

I’m reading what you wrote about Emmanuel Steward not wanting Naseem Hamed to fight Barrera. I want to give you props for not being one of the haters that love an opportunity to bash “The Prince” over this one and only loss. I am admittedly bias towards Hamed because I am Arab and although there are a lot of very good Arab/Middle Eastern fighters, there are very few that are mainstream or catch the imagination of even casual boxing fans. Naseem Hamed was a legitimate bonafide  champion who held the WBC, IBF, and WBO titles along with being the lineal featherweight champion. Unlike his countryman Anthony Joshua who failed to come across the pond to the United States to make his mark and impress American fans, Naseem’s American debut came at Madison square garden against the formidable hometown fighter Kevin Kelley. Naz not only won that fight in an emphatic knockout victory, but put on a hell of a show in doing so. When it comes to the fight against Marco Antonio Barrera who is an out right hof fighter, Hamed’s detractors seem relish his defeat as if that loss negates all his accomplishments and contributions to the sport. It was a fine victory for Barrera, but not the whitewashing a lot of detractors make it out to be with judges scoring it 8-4 twice and 7-5 in favor of Barrera with no knockdowns at all, and Barrera actually being slightly stunned in either the 9th or 10th rd. Hamed did not rematch Barrera which lead to a lot of backlash instead had one more fight which he won and then quietly retired. Real fans know he was not a hype job but a real deal champ and it’s unfair that he is a lot times judged on that one losing performance which wasn’t as bad of loss as made to seem. Sorry for the long write up. Question is mythical matchup:

Hamed vs. Tank Davis
Hamed vs. Shakur Stevenson
Hamed vs. Loma

(Davis and Stevenson are current champions so no arguments that they are too green at this point)
With all respect and thanks,
Rich from Brooklyn

Bread’s Response: People forget how big of a star Prince Hamed was. I’ve received about 25 emails about him because it was the anniversary of his fight with MAB. The Prince retired almost 20 years ago and he was a featherweight. Just think about that. Oh and one more thing, he lost the fight he didn’t win it. No one is writing in about the perfect fight Barrera fought.

I will never HATE on GREATNESS. Hamed meets every requirement for a great fighter. He had longevity which also negates the luck or one night wonder critique. He had 15 title wins. He was champion for 6 years. He unified which shows he fought some of the best available guys. He passed the eye ball test with his power, athleticism and dynamics. He also showed heart. The Prince was buzzed or dropped often. He usually scored kos AFTER this.

What he didn’t show was the willingness to fight the great Mexican fighters of his day in Morales, Marquez and Barrera again. Pacman had not yet ascended to 126lbs so I won’t count him. So that’s a knock on him. He also didn’t rise again after his LOSS to Barrera. So he’s not an ATG. But he’s for sure a great fighter. I don’t get why people don’t get it. It’s really simple. How can he not be a GREAT fighter?

The Prince fell into a place of Complacency. Once that happens you have to do two things. Retire or get the fire back. He was a huge millionaire so he retired in his 20s and everyone is mad at him. But what if he goes on and loses 6 out of 7 and gets stopped a few times? Then how would he be viewed? He had a right to get out when he did. I don’t blame him if the FIRE was gone.

I don’t want to do MM with young fighters like Davis and Stevenson. No one can tell this early. The Prince may have hit one of those kids on the chin and kod them. Or they could outbox him. Again, it’s too early.

The Prince is great but he can’t beat Loma. Loma would twist him in a puzzle and probably stop him late. Loma has already passed the Prince as for as historical status and he’s better head to head in my opinion.

Ok here's a couple quick questions Bread.

1. What are some of the most surprising one sided fights were it looked even going into the fight like Wilder/Fury 2.
2. I know there were rumours about Marquez on something in the 4th manny fight but unproven, but here is one and forgive me if I'm just spewing off at the mouth but man I like Holyfield but in the 90s his muscle growth looked off, I mean nothing has been proven but I always questioned.
3. What are some of your most impressive weight jumps in history besides Jones-Ruiz, Duran-SRL Mosely-DLH?
4. Do you think boxing is more talented than it has ever been or is it a byproduct of good matchmaking as to why there are so many top contenders in each weight class?
5 I noticed fighters were real bouncy back in the day and fought on their toes alot and where able to throw alot of combos that way, case in point Hearns. Why doesn't that style exist as much today. The last people I remember who fought like that although technically flawed were RJJ and Prince Naseem. Speaking of Prince I think he could've done some great things had he went back to the drawing board. Have you ever looked at a fighter and said man they would be great with this trainer etc.?, case in point Wilder and Broner would've been great with a dynamically offensive coach like Roach. Anyways God Bless.

Bread’s Response: 1. I was actually surprised that Floyd Mayweather defeated Shane Mosley so easily. Besides the 2nd round when Floyd got hurt, he completed dominated Mosley and was the stronger, meaner fighter which surprised me.

2. There were some strong rumors on Marquez because of the change in his body in 2011 and 2012 at such an older age. But I’m going to Play Devil’s Advocate. I love Manny Pacquiao. I have always been a supporter and admirer of him as a fighter. But Manny was the A side. He could have asked for VADA. He didn’t. I know it wasn’t the norm to do that in 2011 and 2012 but it was around. He could have figured it out. The talk of Marquez was open speculation in boxing before and after those fights. Remember Manny had fought him in the 3rd fight which kind of goes under the radar out of the 4 because there were no knockdowns in that fight. So, Manny has to take some responsibility. After the Marquez ko Manny started asking for VADA. Brandon Rios tested positive as an opponent for Manny if you remember the following year. Tim Bradley also asked Marquez to do VADA the following year and beat Marquez in an underrated win….Very interesting if you ask me.

Holyfield is my guy also. But the Evan Fields ordeal was something to look at. It’s only circumstantial and it’s not hard proof but it is problematic for some. Holyfield was my favorite fighter of the 90s so it’s hard for me to talk about. But I won’t shy away from it either because integrity is integrity. I give Holyfield his props he’s special to me. But there was some speculation on him also. Maybe there is a reasonable explanation for the Evan Fields things. I don’t know it all in detail and I choose not to assume anything unless I do. Maybe one day a respected reporter can ask him because he deserves a chance to defend himself.

3. Michael Spinks vs Larry Holmes is the best weight jump in history. No one speaks on it but the stakes of that fight were huge. Spinks didn’t take any tune ups. He just jumped and fought the best heavyweight of his era who was 48-0.

4.No boxing is not more talented than it ever has been. The 2000s, 90s and 80s had more HOF talent than now. Just think about this Manny Pacquiao is still a top fighter now and he turned pro in 1995.

5. Fighters adapt their style to the best fighter of the day. Ali was the guy in the 70s. If you look close even the sluggers had some bounce to them. They were mirroring Ali. So Leonard and Hearns were 80s guys. The mimicked Ali to an extent and so on.

I also believe fighters trained differently back then. They jumped more rope which was a big part of their conditioning. Fighters today do plyometrics and things like that. So it’s just different.

Last but not least the pad work is different. Fighters do fancy routine drills today. You can’t do those catch, rat, tat tat drills on your toes. I’m not saying I’m against it, whatever works, works. I’m just saying things are different.

I have looked at fighters and thought they would be great under a certain type of coach. But I won’t ever say it specifically because it will disrespect the coaches they already have and I don’t do that. I don’t know what Wilder or Broner would be under Freddie Roach. Here is why. Chemistry. Some fighters just don’t have the personalities to get along with certain trainers. You have to factor that in. Not all fighters are easy to get along with and at the same time stand down and allow themselves to be coached.

I don’t know Wilder or Broner in a personal capacity so I can’t say if they would be a good fit with Freddie Roach or not.

guillermo-rigondeaux (26)

Hi Bread

Appreciate your thoughts on Tyson v Ali mail i sent last week, point that really stood out to me was what you said about Cus D'amato training the boy not the man and his tolerance to a Mike with access to $20m paychecks.

I read/listened to people and Mike himself say he stopped training properly after Cus died and so just assumed the reverse...if Cus didn't die Mike would have been training like he was a teenager til he was in his 30's. But that was a very simplistic and probably incorrect view ....really good point, the psychology of a man changes as he gets older espically when you start becoming a wealthy powerful man.

Consistency is a very hard thing to achieve at any level let alone the pinnacle and who knows if Cus would have been able to keep Mike grounded, would have been very hard to do with a kid that grew up with nothing.

Thanks for helping me challenge my conceptions around this, massive fan of Mike regardless of mythical prime v prime results.

Switching gears ,last year in the UK we had Dubois vs Gorman in a puncher vs boxer style match up but Gorman just seemed to need to prove to everyone he could match up to Dubois in a fight rather than box and in the end he got knocked out in a 1 sided fight.

Cn you think of 3 or 4 great examples of how a fighter made his opponent fight the completely wrong fight either by what they did in the build up or during the early rounds?
Kind Regards

Bread’s Response: I pride myself on looking at things from a REAL POV. I consider ALL things before I speak usually. I have been around fighters who were teenagers and watched them evolve into young men. In most cases the difference is night and day. Not all but most cases. Money curbs hunger. Lack of hunger brings justification. At 19 they may not have a serious girlfriend. At 28 they may have a FULL family. At 19 they may want to die in the ring. At 28 with a family they want to live for their family. It’s different. It’s a domino effect.

I always hear people say what if Cus didn’t die. I always think to myself Tyson would have won the title and the money and women would have still came. Tyson wouldn’t have lived with him with 50 million in the bank. It’s too hard to determine how things would have played out.

The biggest example of  a fighter who was goaded is Leonard vs Duran1. Leonard was a bigger puncher than people realize but he wanted to hurt Duran instead of just wanting to win. There is a different energy between wanting to hurt and wanting to win. Duran called Leonard’s wife names and insulted him in every way. So Leonard didn’t fight a bad fight. He fought similar to his natural style. He wasn’t a pure boxer but he could play keep away when he had to.. But he had too much vigor in the 1st Duran fight. He tried too hard and it cost him close.

Hey bread, how's it going? Hope you're keeping well. Im not in anyway what i would call a decent boxing historian or student but i do like to research & learn about things. I know in boxing we see whats in the public eye or what we're allowed to.

I think boxing is as much about not just the business side, but what goes on in the gyms and the fighters many boxing fans dont know about who were & could've been something special.

A guy who i came across through general reading was bernard mays of kronk gym who operated in the late 70's i believe. I have read that this guy was amazing, revered by fighters like the great tommy hearns. I believe there are plenty of fighters like this who couldve potentially altered the history of boxing had they fulfilled their potential. The common denominator with these boxers seems to be a lack of control over their lives outside the gym, usually resulting in tragic circumstances. And their stories are always fascinating.

Are there any other fighters of the top of your head who would or couldve been game changers had they progressed like they could have? Its a shame we can never even see clips of what some of these guys were like. Wasted talent.
Thank you for taking your time to give us a great mailbag. Paulie UK

Bread’s Response: This is a good question and you always hear about the guy who “would have……”But here is my take. Unless a fighter had a crazy injury or tragic death I don’t view it as most do.

You’re addictions and character are a part of your success. So if you couldn’t overcome them, then it’s a flaw in you and whatever your career was, it was. I heard some great stories about May’s ability but alcoholism eventually was his downfall. Everyone knows boxing and alcohol don’t mix. Some fighters can drink and still be great. Most can’t. I personally view these cases as they were. I don’t put projection on them. Early endings always enhance projection.

I have heard so many of these stories. Most recently I heard a case that if a certain fighter would have left the women alone they would be an ATG. Well that’s part of the discipline of being a fighter. I don’t mean to sound harsh but attrition weeds out the LEVEL you attain. Everyone won’t make it and there will always be a reason why. Every fighter has access to food, women and alcohol if you really think about it in a literal sense.

The fighter I do wonder what would have happened to his career if he didn’t die was Salvador Sanchez. Early peak death often leads to a inflated view because we only judge on the 3 or 4 peak years. So it’s easy to say Sanchez would have been the best fighter ever. He had a helluva run to die at 23. But drop off is a part of the game. So is rise in weight. In 1982 there was FOOD on the table. I would have liked to see a rematch with a more experienced Azumah Nelson. A unification with Eusabio Pedraza. A defense over Barry McGuigan. A rise in weight to fight a rising Chavez who won a title in 1984 at 130. It would have been fascinating to see where Sanchez would have ended up all time had he not died. Sometimes an early exit hurts a legacy but often times it can help.

Can you guys imagine how Mike Tyson would be viewed if he got injured and stopped fighting in 1989 after his 9th title defense. No Buster Douglas fight. All we would have to judge him on is his peak years, never seeing him lose. It’s interesting to think of……And I’m not saying Sanchez would have fizzled out, I’m just saying it can go both ways.

Peace and POWER to you good brother,

I know time is money so I'll get straight to it...

1- At what point as a trainer can you tell a fighter is shot? And based upon that awareness, how do you break it to that fighter?
2-I used to spar a lot several years ago with some pro fighters and many of them had pretty bad losing records. Mostly by decisions in someone else's backyard that they arguably won. My question is... What are some things that keep a fighter from getting a "shot" i.e. TV, fight for a belt,etc. and makes them career long opponents & gatekeepers, despite having skills and talent?
3- How much better would some old school fighters be today with our methods of nutrition, recovery, and training? Like Ali, Louis, Jack Johnson, SRR?
I had another technical question, but I'll ask in another mailbag.
I appreciate you and be safe out here.

Bread’s Response: 1. I don’t have an issue telling a fighter anything boxing related. I don’t try to get too personal with fighters but being around someone everyday you learn personal things about them and you can’t help forming a personal relationship with them. So if their personal lives interfere with their boxing lives then it’s my job to say something.

Fighters who I thought were shot have asked me to train them and I told them no. I didn’t use the term shot but I told them they should retire. I’ve never physically trained a shot fighter but I would definitely tell them. It’s better to leave boxing one fight too early than one fight too late. In other sports that doesn’t apply because you can stick around and still make millions past your prime. In boxing you can go to the morgue.

You have to tell them respectfully. Respect is always due. There are other words you can use besides SHOT. You can tell them they slipped a little bit and it’s time to start making an exit plan. If a fighter is stubborn your tone will have to be more harsh and you may have to use the word SHOT.

2. Sparring and fighting are different. There are lots of dudes can spar with no judges or pressure of winning rounds, especially in urban cities where we fight for fun. Not everyone can go under the lights. In Philly I have seen guys literally walk in off the streets and beat up experienced pros. Often times the level a fighter gets to is not just skill it’s dedication of coming to the gym and having someone guide you. I know some dudes who don’t have the discipline to be amateur or professional fighters but they can fight their butts off.

But in cases where certain fighters don’t get shots it’s usually because of bad management or them turning down too many fights.

3. Fighters in the past would be awesome today with our recovery. Even if they didn’t use the new training methods and did simple road work, calesthetics and boxing work the recovery and diets would really have them sharp.

I read a story on Ray Leonard and he said once he had fried chicken, mashed potatoes and red Kool aide for a prefight meal I think it was against Duran. Today a fighter would have pasta, grilled chicken and spinach. And instead of Kool Aide they would have alkanized water or a carb drink.

I think the modern recovery methods would help a great deal. But massages were always around. Ali used to get them all the time. So were ice bath. Ali and Sonny Liston ate lots of steaks. Vegetables and they drank milk for protein which is not bad. Lots of people drink chocolate milk for recovery today. I won’t say which type unless they are sponsoring…But you get what I’m saying.

Fighters in the past viewed boxing as a endurance sport so they did endurance training. They were consistent. In the 1990s sports science started to catch up and the boxer’s muscles started to look different.

But to answer you directly I think the fighters in the past would be even better with our recovery and some not all of our explosive training. Ray Robinson for example is the best combination puncher I’ve ever seen. Joe Louis is the best puncher overall I’ve ever seen. Neither used pad work. So if they got to practice some of their combinations I can see them being better. I also think the 10% of valuable strength coaches could add some things. Also I think a guy like Joe Louis wouldn’t be 200lbs. Today he would be a 220lb killer. So he would be just fine in this era. He would be the same weight as Wilder.

A guy like Robinson who started out at 135. With a day before weigh in and healthy weight cut he would probably win titles from 130-168. Just think about that.

Good morning Bread,

Thanks for your detailed replies on 2 of my questions. I am honoured!

I loved your comments on 'El Chacal'. I admire him very much. Probably my dumbest ever act was before the fight with Donaire. I had £20 in my hand ready to go & bet on Rigondeaux. I looked at the weigh-in &, standing next to each other, Nonito looked not only bigger but younger, fitter, healthier, everything. I thought 'even Rigo's skills can't overcome all these disadvantages' & didn't bet. D'oh!

Rigondeaux' career is so reminiscent of Pernell's, their incredible skills & accomplishments are not rewarded, they always get the rough end. Pernell was fighting world title fights on undercards. How does that make sense? He was robbed blind v Ramirez & unlucky v Chavez. I remember promoters saying 'he may be good but he isn't exciting'.  Pernell would stand in a corner with his hands down & invite anyone to hit him. How is that not exciting!

It saddens me as a British fan but you're right about people avoiding 'El Chacal'. When they held titles at 122 both Frampton & Quigg would talk about going after the big fight, but when they were questioned that always meant each other, LSC or Abner Mares. When asked about Guillermo they would just go quiet & change the subject! I was disappointed by Abner because at 118 he took dangerous fights he didn't have to v Agpeko & Anselmo Moreno but, faced with 'El Chacal' he chose to move up to 126 & fight Johhny Gonzales!

Also, it is sensitive, but I think you're right to say that, while this could affect any skilful defensive boxer, it seems disproportionately to affect those of African heritage. That just seems to be how it is.

Anyway, quick question. When a big fight is coming up, on the 'tale of the tape' you learn every physical thing that could be relevant - age, height, reach, record etc, all except one crucially important thing they never mention; the size of the ring. I don't know why they don't ever give those dimensions because they are generally a lot more important than which fighter has larger biceps! In your experience, Bread, in which fights has the size of the ring been most crucial?

Bread’s Response: I think Pernell Whitaker got more love than Rigo. Pernell got some big PPV fights. He fought on HBO for most of his career. He made tons of money. He gets called defensive and some said he was boring which was off base. He was actually a great offensive fighter he just wasn’t a ko artist. Overall he wasn’t a superstar but a star and an ATG fighter.

Rigo was flat out blackballed. He may not even get into the HOF because he was denied opportunities. And I doubt if he ever made a million dollars in one fight. I know he didn’t for fighting Loma at 130. What a killer fight to take!

And yes you’re right. When a black fighter fights with defensive awareness he gets a bad rep for being boring often. The criticism is disproportioned. But I always ask people this question who are overly critical of “boxers”. If you’re SON was learning how to fight, who would you want him to fight like? Pernell Whitaker or Arturo Gatti? I love Gatti but I haven’t had one person tell me Gatti.

Tale of the Tape. I look at everything although it’s not always totally accurate. Fighters usually put an inch on their reach and they round up on their heights. I think when the networks actually measure fighters it’s better. I’m also glad they started doing arm length instead of reach because a fighter can have a long or short back from shoulder to shoulder which will throw his overall reach off.

I look at everything. Leg size which isn’t used anymore. If a see a fighter with disproportioned legs that will tell me something. Fist and wrist size which also isn’t used anymore. Big fist and wrist usually correlate to heavy handedness.

I don’t think Ring Size is a part of the Tale of the Tape. The smallest ring you can get is 18ft and I think the biggest is 22ft. It can be a factor but a bigger factor to me is the thickness of the ring mat.

In the Canelo Alvarez vs Austin Trout fight the ring mat seemed really sponge like. It just seemed off to me. My feet sunk in more than usual. I told my fighter that night to not move so much because his legs would be sapped. I don’t know if it played a factor with the main event but it played a factor in how we fought.

Rope tightness also plays a bigger factor than ring size…..

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