By Stephen "Breadman" Edwards
The Daily Breadman Mailbag returns with Stephen "Breadman" Edwards tackling topics such as Floyd Mayweather s. Robert Duran, Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde, top referees in the sport of boxing, and more.
I read in your mailbag two weeks back that you think that a prime Duran can beat a prime Mayweather (as per you it is the light welterweight Mayweather). Will not argue with you over your pick but there is one area where I disagree. As per me, the best Mayweather was the one we saw in his 6 fight stint at Showtime. I feel whatever he lost in athleticism, he made up in raw strength. Do you honestly think that the Duran that beat Leonard can beat this version of Mayweather cause I do not agree. I think Mayweather's 'stick, move and clinch' style would earn him a razor thin decision. Dirty boxing or clinch striking is a very important aspect of Duran's game and I do not think that Duran can bully him in the clinch like Maidana. You have to remember Leonard that fought Duran weighed merely 145 lbs and the Maidana that bullied Mayweather in the clinch weighed 165 lbs on fight night. I understand there is a lot science that goes into a clinch and it isn't all about strength but I honestly think that the Mayweather we saw in that 6 fight stint at Showtime was too strong to let Duran bully him in the clinch. Something was different about that version of Mayweather. While he still weighed 150 lbs on fight night but he was noticeably more muscular and much stronger. Whatever changes he made to his diet and training regimen woked well as per me. Plus, with his uncle out and his father in, he once again became more responsible defensively. I would pick Duran over any other version of Mayweather but not the one I mentioned above. This Mayweather was just too strong.
Bread’s Response: I think Duran’s win vs Leonard in June of 1980 is one of the top 5 wins and performances in the history of boxing. Duran’s physical ability matched his skill, and his skill matched his mental ability and the show he put on was awesome.
Duran and Mayweather both have underrated physical strength. But as you said it’s more than strength. I think Duran was strong enough to maul Mayweather…But it wasn’t that Maidana mauled him it was that he was able to corner him. Duran had the skill to do so.
I think it would be a great fight. I’m not one of those people who believe that every old school fighter can beat every current one. But any fighter close to Duran’s size most likely can’t beat him on his best night. I’m not even sure who I favor over him from 135-147 besides Robinson, Henars and Leonard.
I also want to point out where you are being slightly misguided. You say Duran weighed 145lbs vs Leonard and Maidana weighed 165lbs as the reason he bullied Mayweather. My question to you is they weren’t doing the dressing room weigh ins in 1980. How do you know what weight Duran stepped into the ring at. I’m not suggesting he was 165lbs because they did same day weigh ins back then. But I don’t believe he was 145lbs. I also want to point out that Duran only fought at welterweight one more time in his career and that was the Leonard rematch.
Whatever you assume that Duran lacked in physical strength compared to Maidana, he surely had more skill and stamina on the inside. Often times physical strength and stamina go neck and neck. Duran was indefatigable for 15 rounds in June of 1980.
I have to say, I’m a huge fan of yours and have been following you for years already. I Really appreciate your boxing knowledge and how you translate it to objectivity when answering our questions. Also, I appreciate how you put certain folks in their place when they are out of line. LOL
My question to you is, what style of boxing do you think is better suited to defeat a fighter with an urban rhythm (Mayweather Jr. and Lara) and a fighter with excellent stationary and hip movement reflexes (Toney and Canelo) – a pressure fighter (Golovkin) or a swarmer (Paul Williams comes to mind)? I’m not sure if most know the difference, but here’s my take on these styles: a pressure fighter is one who is consistently coming forward. One that can cut off the ring and is being methodical in hunting and laying traps on his opponent. A swarmer is a fighter who is more of a volume puncher and overwhelms opponents with the sheer amount of punches thrown. Both styles can weigh an opponent down physically and mentally.
Also, how do see a show down between Leo Santa Cruz vs Gary Russell at 126? LSC is a relentless pressure fighter, whose boxing ability is underrated. But something tells me a quick 1-2 from Russell could possibly stop him in his traps. I honestly don’t know. Your prediction?
Here are some mythical matchups and in their primes of course:
Hector Camacho vs Juan Manuel Marquez at 135
Kostya Tszyu vs Miguel Cotto at 140
Vernon Forrest vs Oscar De la Hoya at 147
Winky Wright vs Thomas Hearns at 154
Thomas Hearns vs GGG at 160
Canelo vs Sugar Ray Leonard at 160
Thanks and best regards,
Bread’s Response: There is no set style to defeat another set style. It really depends on what specific fighter is executing it. But in the overall rock, paper, scissors of boxing there are styles that bother others.
Mayweather and Lara are just not urban rhythm fighters they are pure boxers. Often times pure boxers have loads of trouble with high volume. Because high volume guys are not trying to wait on a big punch or specific opening. The pure boxer who has an advantage in mind quickness usually, doesn’t get to apply it vs the swarmer because the swarmer is just fighting a proactive fight.
The best case example is Maidana vs Mayweather 1 and 2. Maidana had a high volume in fight 1. His volume went down about 20% in the second fight and it showed He didn’t have the efficient skill set to compete with Mayweather with a low output.
In other cases of where high volume gave pure boxing trouble of beat it is, Hurd vs Lara, Castillo vs Mayweather, Frazier vs Ali, Saddler vs Pep, Armstrong vs Ross and Chavez vs Camacho.
The fighter like Canelo and James Toney usually get troubled when you move around them. The angles they take to avoid punches allows exit routes around them that can be exploited. It’s not to suggest a volume puncher or methodical fighter can’t beat them. It’s just that they want you to attack them. Different mind set. So the pure boxer in rock, paper, scissors drives them crazy.
Santa Cruz vs Russell not happening after all of these years is one of the more bizarre things in featherweight history. There are both champions in the same division, at the same time under the same banner and no fight has happened.
I have no idea who would win. Excellent match up on paper.
Camacho vs Marquez is a tough fight to call. They both have lost to lesser fighters than the other. I can see Marquez clipping him with a big shot and forcing him to go in retreat. I can also see Camacho frustrating and outboxing him. My won’t agree with me but I will take the fighter who showed more character under duress. Marquez never stopped trying to win a fight no matter what happened. Camacho went into survival mode too often for my money even in his prime. If Rosario can turn him into retreat mode, I suspect Marquez could who was just as good a puncher with on par technique. The Derrick Gainer and Joe Casamayor fights also give me confidence Marquez could beat him.
Tszyu vs Cotto is tough. Very even fight. They would have to fight 3x. Great, great fight.
Forest vs Oscar. Another tough one. But I’m going to go with Oscar today. Forest had Mosley’s number but I he struggled vs the other best fighters he fought. Mora, Maidana and Quartey all gave him hell or beat him. I thought Quartey got robbed. Close fight but give the guy who was proven against more styles.
Hearns over Winky. Hearns would punch through the guard like he did James Shuler. Winky didn’t have the punch variety or power to beat Hearns.
Hearns vs GGG is a tough match up. GGG punches so dam hard it’s easy to envision him stopping Hearns at 160. But Hearns is as good as an offensive fighter we have ever seen. GGG is not hard to hit and Hearns would go after him. I think they would have to fight 3x.
Leonard is most likely too mobile Canelo but Canelo is improving and seems to be in his prime at 160. Today I say Leonard but Canelo is approaching that special status.
I’ve long admired your boxing intellect and thought provoking responses so I’m hoping to ask a question you’ve never been posed with and eagerly await your response.
I like many others believe that matchups make fights. However, matchups only make fights as long as there is a willing, competent and excellent referee. On the opposite side of the spectrum we also know referees can absolutely ruin fights. Out of respect for your position, those are not the names I’ll be asking you for. Given that I’ve been a boxing fan for only 35 years my top 3 list of great referees may be contained to a more modern era. Who do you feel were the top 3 referees in the game and what fights do you base your top 3 on? As a trainer what referees today do you like having in your match for your boxers today?
My top 3 and reasons.
1) Steve Smolger: I don’t know if you had the extreme pleasure of watching the Delvin Rodriguez vs. Pawel Wolak fight. If you did not please take the time to do so. This gem was an all out war from start to finish and I’ve found that not many boxing fans saw this fight. In this match Smolger did not break up the fighters a single time; not a single time in the 10 round fight. I know this may sound astonishing but it is very true. I rewatched the fight just to confirm what I witnessed, specifically looking for a Smolger break. It did not exist. It made for one of the best fan friendly fights I had ever witnessed.
Even when a nasty hematoma had developed over Wolak’s eye he let the fighters continue. They left their all in this fight. So much so that even by round 6 or 7 Teddy Atlas commented kindly to the fact that Smolger is an excellent referee that wasn’t even noticed which made for an excellent fight. Smolger’s fights are ALWAYS fan friendly. However, Smolger also knows the perfect moments when to stop a fight. Most times, he allows the boxers to police themselves and isn’t constantly jumping in at every clinch. This I feel is an attribute that few referees leverage today. In fact it is my top attribute for an excellent referee. Is the referee invisible up to the moment it is most crucial that he is not, such as properly stopping a fight? For me, Smolger walks this tight rope perfectly.
2)Mills Lane: While some came down hard on Lane for the Tyson/Holyfield biting fight (for not ending it on the first occurrence), I found that he made the right decision when he did. And while the “night fight” was the one that made him famous he was a great referee long before this infamous fight.
Lane portrayed what I consider the second best quality of a great referee, ring command. Maybe it was the way he expressed himself, maybe it was his voice? What I can tell you and what you may already know is that this noticeably much smaller man who had referee’d Ali/Foster, Norton/Holmes, Holmes/Cooney could get any boxer to willingly follow every instruction at the moment he voiced it. He would, without hesitation get between boxers twice his size on breaks and they would respectfully not offer the resistance many are accustomed to to this day.
His command of the ring also lent to him not having to be heavily involved in the fight. Once boxers heard his instruction they generally followed it to the end of the fight. Because of this I did not find Lane to be overly punitive in the taking away of points from boxers. The boxers respected Lane.
3)Kenny Bayless: it’s hard not to mention great referees and Bayless’ name not show up. Boxing fans got to see great fights referee’d by Bayless and not once that I can recall did we complain that the referee ruined the fight for us.
For me the third best attribute for a great referee is, in great fights does the referee allow the fighters to be great or is the referee there to share in the glory? Mayweather vs. De La Hoya, Pacquiao vs. Cotto, Pacquiao vs. Hatton, Mayweather vs. Mosley, Margarito vs. Cotto. Each of these fights spoke for themselves. The fighters etched great fights in boxing history and Bayless was just along for the ride.
Do you agree?
Thanks for your time Breadman!
Gary from Columbus Ohio
Bread’s Response: I have a few referees that I really like. I won’t mention the ones I don’t care for but there are about 3 or 4 referees that consistently screw up fights. Off the top of my head.
I also like Steve Smoger. He really lets you go. He’s just cool dude and a cool ref. I can’t think of a fight that he screwed up.
Steve Willis’s recent interview was epic. And he was absolutely right. Willis is a great ref and he needs more jobs. His point of view is on point. There is no need for a standing 8 count in professional boxing. Willis is a very smart guy.
Benji Esteves is very good also.
Tony Weeks was the ref in the best fight I ever seen. Corrales vs Castillo. He deserves a mention.
Bill Clancy is sort of new on the scene in the big fight cities but he was the referee in Williams vs Hurd. What a job he did. He didn’t mess up the flow of the fight which turned out to be a great fight. He wasn’t too squeamish with the cuts. I’ve seen a referee take fighters to see the doctor over lesser cuts and give fighters the opportunity to stop fighting. Clancy also didn’t over officiate the low blows. Both Hurd and Williams went to the body and a few blows strayed on the blet line. Neither fighter complained because the shots weren’t under the cup. So Clancy gave a few warnings but overall he let them work.
Bill Clancy deserves consideration for some big jobs and not just local in his area. He’s as good as the best referees in NY, California or Nevada.
I’m a huge fan of your Daily Bread mailbag. I look forward to reading it every week. Thank you! This is not so much a question, but rather a sharing of info. In a mailbag from a couple weeks ago (8/10/19) you were asked about a mythical matchup between Pernell Whitaker and Hector Camacho on their best nights as lightweight. I expected you to reference the story of their 1984 sparring session, as told by Emmanuel Steward – prime super featherweight champ Camacho vs. 18 year old 132 lb Olympian Whitaker – since you seem to have such an encyclopedic knowledge of boxing. But with no reference of the session, and your belief that prime Camacho was a bad style for Whitaker... I thought I’d share this link with you. If you are already aware of this story, feel free to dismiss it.
While penning this email, I did a little more research and found that Camacho fought no southpaws in 1984, but he fought Rafael Solis in November of 1983 and Bazooka Limon in August of 1983. I also saw on the Kronk History website that Pernell and a few his Olympic teammates (as recalled by Steward) trained at the gym, but in 1983 in their quest for Olympic Gold. I’d think sparring with Whitaker would’ve been better prep for Solis than Limon, so my guess is the actual sparring session likely took place in November of ‘83, rather than 1984, as Steward recalled.
If you want a question...
While on the Kronk website, I stumbled across a name of a Kronk boxer who I recall watching in his pro debut, and throughout his rise. Oba Carr. I thought he was destined to be a World Champion and perhaps greatness someday. After watching him for a few years (including misses at the welterweight title vs. Quartey, Trinidad and DeLaHoya – man...does it get tougher?), I recall thinking that he had a weakness in not altering the speed and intensity of his attack like so many great champions have done. I felt like this inability to shift gears and change speed and power on his shots may have kept him from achieving a greater degree of success, and possibly contributed to him being easier to time and counter as well as making it easier to avoid or absorb his offensive attack. I know he was sometimes labeled as having a weak chin, but I wonder if this flaw, as I thought I saw it, was a contributor. Did you ever have that impression of him – or anyone else, in particular - and is changing the speed and intensity of attack something you specifically train in a boxer?
Keep up the good work and huge congrats on Julian’s World Championship title win. It was very obvious that he was an extremely well prepared boxer against Jarrett in Fairfax. I kept thinking that throughout the match. Very impressive stuff.
Bread’s Response: Whitaker was born in January of 1964. So if the sparring happened in 1984 as Steward courted the Olympic team then he was 20 and not 18. I also did hear about Whitaker getting the better of the sparring session. I believe Steward’s account of the story.
I didn’t bring it up because what you guys may not know is that when elite amateurs who are still amateurs or just turning pro usually get the better of the established pro 8 out of 10 times. Especially if the session is less than 6 rounds. It’s very common and you can ask any reputable trainer.
During that same time I saw a video of Mark Breland who was a member of the same Olympic team, boxing Tommy Hearns who was from the Kronk Gym. Breland was outboxing Hearns clearly until Hearns cracked him with a right hand and hurt him. Nobody outboxes Hearns in real fights but you can see Breland doing it in a sparring match.
I’m not suggesting it doesn’t mean anything because it is an indicator but from my knowledge Whitaker and Camacho only sparred once. And one 3 round sparring session is not enough for me to say Whitaker would dominate him in a real fight. There are too many factors. And for the record I said Whitaker would beat Camacho.
Good observation. Oba Carr looked to be the part. He was in a sense. But his attack while fast was predictable. I agree. I also think he lacked physical strength for an elite welterweight. His punches just didn’t have the effect on is top opponents than they did on him. Carr was also cursed with his birthday.
I can’t think of another fighter in history who had 3 title shots of the WBA, WBC and IBF. And in each title shot they fought a top 15 P4P, HOF level, undefeated fighter. That’s just unreal he had to go through that. Only Ruben Castillo and Rocky Juarez had tougher title shots.
I also thought Carr who was a boxer/puncher but more boxer, wasn’t as elusive as his style indicated. If you looked at his fights vs the BIG 3 he was easier to hit than they were. Sometimes because a fighter is the boxer in a fight, we assume he’s the better defensive fighter which is not always the case. Defense has a lot to do with reflexes, positioning and IQ. And just because you aren’t the better puncher doesn’t mean you automatically will have better defense. For the record I have never felt worse for a fighter than Carr.
Carr is very similar to Amir Khan. He’s better technically than Khan. He’s better overall. But both are really fast, they don’t have a change up so they are easy to time. And against top opponents you find yourself saying how it easy it is for them to get clipped despite what appears to be great boxing ability.
What's up Bread?
Kovalev vs. Yarde, who you got?
And how would Chris John circa 2006 (when he fought Juan Manuel Marquez) fare in the following matchups against today's top featherweights? (I left out guys like Shakur Stevenson and Josh Warrington since they are still building their legacies)
1. Leo Santa Cruz
2. Gary Russell Jr.
3. Carl Frampton
William in West Palm
Bread’s Response: Chris John was excellent. He’s every bit as good as Santa Cruz, Russell and Frampton. I say he beat Frampton and Russell and spilt fights with Santa Cruz.
I don’t know how the Kovalev vs Yarde fight will go. But I do have some thoughts on it. I thought Kovalev looked great in the Alvarez rematch. That was an underrated win. Ageing fighters coming off ko defeats, usually don’t do that well in immediate rematches. If Kovalev was NOT a HOF before that fight, he certainly is now.
But kovalev has always been a guy who in my opinion while being a great offensive fighter, I always thought his durability was just C level. I think Canelo knows this and it’s why he wants the fight so bad.
At 36 and let’s be honest reported alcohol drinking I would assume Kovalev will be hot and cold at this point of his career.
Stylistically This fight should look like Forest vs Mosley. With Kovalev being Forest. The rangier jabber who can break the electric fighter’s rhythm. But I think we need to judge Kovlaev on a fight by fight basis at this point. Kovalev has the best clean up jab I have ever seen. His gets better leverage on his jab after a right hand than anyone I have seen. Most clean up with a hook. Kovalev comes back with a jab after a right hand and it hurts and catches everyone. Yarde has to program his mind to defend that unusual sequence.
Yarde looks the part. I think there is an energy around him and his team. Either they will be humbled or we will see a colorful star emerge. Yarde’s competition has been low. He doesn’t have high amateur pedigree. But he does have talent and he can fight.
If he’s special or if Kovalev is not in perfect condition I can see Yarde stopping him. Kovalev has more ways to win….But I read something that scares me for Yarde and it’s why I can’t make a pick on this fight.
Yarde does not spar. Either his coach is a genius or…..I just don’t know but not sparring scares me. Here is why.
Sparring is the ultimate conditioning for a fighter. It’s better than anything a fighter can do to get into shape. The heart rate under the stress of being punched on can’t be simulated by anything else. A fighter learns his 2nd wind by sparring. A fighter also develops punch resistance by sparring. Your body get used to taking punishment. Over the course of rounds, taking shot after shot, will take a toll on a man who doesn’t practice it.
I know people say too much sparring causes damage. I agree. But not enough sparring will lead you to not be able to handle punishment. In fact if you look at great fighters who have taken off for long periods of times. Their punch resistance is usually down because they simply haven’t been hit.
Let’s look at history. Ray Leonard was never knocked down in 33 fights. He fought killers in Benitez, Duran and Hearns. He takes off a few years and gets dropped by a fringe contender in Kevin Howard. Leonard then got dropped by Hearns. Lalonde, Norris and Camacho. Not getting hit affected his punch resistance.
Mike Tyson. Tyson was a guy who I thought had a good chin but didn’t take punishment well. He comes back after going to jail and has 4 easy fights. He was only hit by Buster Mathis. Literally no one else hit him. He fights Holyfield and it seemed as if everytime Holyfield hit him, he moved him.
Yarde timing his 2nd wind and taking prolonged punishment is something I will observe closely. I don’t believe you can build and iron chin by not sparring but I could be wrong.
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