The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen "Breadman" Edwards tackling topics such as Deontay Wilder's recent knockout of Luis Ortiz, Wilder's pound-for-pound status, Canelo Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev, and more.
Who do you think were the best-looking bad boxers & the worst looking good boxers of all time?
I’ll clarify. I watched some grainy old footage of Kid Gavilan v Johnny Bratton. In the first 2 Bratton looked amazing, really quick, sleek, smooth. He moved effortlessly around the Kid, who, by contrast, looked stiff-legged & ungainly. Gavilan’s punches were wild swipes, he was often off-balance & he just didn’t look as quick as Bratton. Over the next few rounds Kid began to adjust the distance between them & started to land shots. By the 10th it was all Gavilan, putting damage on Bratton & taking little back. The championship rounds were cruel. Bratton, showing the heart of a warrior & great conditioning, was still trying to move on his toes but Gavilan seemed to hit him with almost every shot he threw. Bratton’s corner really should have pulled him out.
The point I’m making is that the art of boxing, simply, is hitting the other guy & not getting hit. In this fight Gavilan didn’t win because of better power, stamina, chin or heart. He won because he was a better boxer, in the sense that he hit Bratton far more often than Bratton hit him, BUT if you looked at the 2 men you’d think Bratton was the better boxer because he looked smoother & silkier.
My list of best-looking bad boxers would start with Tyrell Biggs. At times he could look lovely, like the 2nd coming of Ali, but anyone could hit him & almost everyone did. Howard Davis won the prize as best stylist in the 1976 Olympics. SRL was competing but Howard was voted best boxer! He never quite made it as a Pro & while there is no shame losing to Jim Watt, a fine champ, or Chapo Rosario, it is surprising to see him move around Watt with big flourishes,then pause for a second, in which Watt hits him. Thirdly, I guess Meldrick. I don’t think technical flaws were his biggest problem. He should’ve stayed at 140, was v ill-advised to go higher, but even at 140 he takes shots that a guy with his reflexes shouldn’t take.
My list of bad-looking good boxers would have to start with Michael Spinks. no ATG (& I honestly believe Michael is an ATG) has looked so awkward & graceless. He had a lovely jab but there was no grace in the way he jerked round the ring in his ungainly posture. Could he fight? DAMN RIGHT! Second would be Kid Gavilan, as above, he pushed SRR all the way, won the undisputed W/W title, made 5 defences, looked horrible, great fighter. Lastly, you might remember Manuel Medina, difficult, skittish, often gave the impression he wished he was somewhere else. Won versions of F/w title 5 times & apart from a peak JMM no-one, not Hamed not anyone, had a good time in the ring with Manuel.
As always, I’m interested in your thoughts because NOBODY speaks more sense about boxing.
PS Keep up the good work on VADA.
Bread’s Response: Another great question. My goodness this is good. Bad Looking Good Boxers. I’m going to go with Carl Froch as one of them. He didn’t look like a good boxer but he landed hard big shots on guys like Jermaine Taylor, Mikkel Kessler and George Groves. I tell people all the time you can look to be better than some one and not be better than them.
Azumah Nelson is another guy who doesn’t look special. His legs are a little straight. He seemed to draw his punches back. But he’s top 10 ever at 126 and 130. Great fighter.
Rocky Marciano looked crude and slow. But he hit everyone and he hit them hard. He had short arms and he wasn’t fast. You have to ask yourself how is he getting so close to his opponents.
Carlos Monzon looked like a straight legged basic fighter. Yet he’s one of the best fighters of all time. Monzon looks like he pushes his punches but the effect of those punches look unreal. The head of his opponent’s are kicking back like they are being shot. And the film is not in HD.
Dick Tiger is another fighter who appears to be crude. But he was an all time great. You just shake your head when you watch him fight but if you look at the results……
Gene Fulmer is another one. Fulmer did not look like a top middleweight but he certainly was.
Marcos Maidana looked crude. But he had a real jab. He knew how to punch into his opponents and he gave the best boxer of the last 20 years life and death for 12 rounds. Going by the way he looked that wasn’t supposed to happen but it did.
In this current era which I believe made you write in about this Deontay Wilder. Wilder looks really robotic defensively. He paws his lead hand. He does plenty wrong. But somehow in 43 fights he’s landed his best punch on every single night. He’s either knocked out or knocked down every opponent of his career. It’s truly remarkable that a fighter can look so bad in areas but keeps landing his best punch consistently.
BAD Good Boxers: This will rattle some feathers but you asked me. Jorge Linares. Linares is smooth. He’s balanced. He throws every punch correctly. He has speed. Power, range. I mean I can go on all day. But if you look at his fights, he’s easy to hit and loses consistently to lesser talents. I can only attribute it to him looking good but not being as good as he looks.
Devon Alexander was very fast. He was tough. He fought some really good competition. But if you look at his fights you say how is Amir Khan, Andreys Kotelnik, Tim Bradley and Shawn Porter hitting him so easy. Alexander was a lot like Meldrick Taylor in that regard. On top of that he didn’t land clean punches. It was really strange watching his fights and rooting for him to win. He rarely landed crowd pleasing punches despite having a good skill set.
Amir Khan is another fighter who has some great wins, and big time pedigree. But there is no way he should be hit the shots that he gets hit with. It’s absurd that gun shots that land on Khan. Prescott, Garcia, Canelo, Crawford…. You can hit Khan with your best punch whenever you want.
I’m sure there are more guys but I don’t have the room to list them. It’s an interesting dynamic to think about. And I know you don’t mean that the guys are actually BAD boxers. But for the way they look they don’t get the results you would think. And vice versa for the guys who look like they can’t box, are getting special results.
Canelo vs Kovalev stunk! Not saying the fix was in, but a slipping Kovalev dug deep and came back against Yarde who almost took him out similar to Wilder/Ortiz I. But yet he looked like he was light sparring in there against Canelo?
Canelo isn't even thinking about fighting Yarde!
A lot of fighters aren't going to want to fight Canelo at 175lbs with all the conditions, conditions which are common at lower weights. I actually think that Canelo moves back down and only returns if there's a beatable challenger at 175lbs, after all Canelo is franchised at 160lbs.
Wilder will take out Ortiz sooner in the rematch, Ortiz is over trained and old.
Seeing him exercising, Ortiz was straining to perform the easiest routines and breathing hard. Wasn't he accused of taking blood pressure pills in a prior scheduling of the match with Wilder? Blood pressure pills mean you're chronically unhealthy, and most that take BP medication take it the rest of their lives.
The difference between Ruiz and Joshua is that Ruiz though fat is flexible, supple and limber in his limbs and torso making him explosive. Joshua exemplifies the traditional boxing no no of not lifting weights! Joshua's stiff, inflexible, and slow with a lack of explosiveness. Joshua has to bludgeon opponents, Ruiz uses quickness.
Ruiz KO's Joshua quicker in the rematch, retiring the Englishman.
Joshua would be better suited for Rugby or NFL as a defensive end or Tight end.
Bread’s Response: I don’t think Canelo vs Kovalev was a great fight by a long shot. But again I think Kovalev was instructed to lessen the exchanges and win a boring fight.
Yarde is talented but not overly skilled. Supreme skills can cause opponents to lessen their attacks. It’s sort of the difference between say Andre Dirrell and Andre Ward. Dirrell you can do more to and get more punches off. Where as with Ward you’re more hesitant. Canelo is light years more skilled than Yarde so therefore you don’t even see openings with Canelo that you see with Yarde.
I think Canelo is in the driver’s seat for the rest of his career. He can pick fights from 160-175 and no one will complain because of the weight jumping factor. I can see him going after Callum Smith now and beating him. You can’t complain about that fight. Viable opponents will create themselves as time goes on. He can make middleweights move up. He can sit and observe good opponents for himself. Don’t be surprised if he fights Gilberto Ramirez, Callum Smith and David Benavidez. Those fights will look great on paper. I’m not saying they are easy in the ring but I am saying that the fighters have weaknesses that he can exploit and the media won’t complain. I’m not complaining either. Just pointing out the landscape. It’s easier to pick fights from 3 divisions than it is to simply fight the best available guy in the division that you’re in.
Wilder did take Ortiz out quicker. I couldn’t tell if Ortiz was over trained though. I thought he looked really good. He wasn’t gun shy. He was sharp and he was winning. He just got caught from my view point.
I agree that Ruiz is loose and explosive. But I don’t know if he kos Joshua quicker in the rematch. I don’t have a pick yet. But I will keep saying this. If Joshua doesn’t realize and apply the difference in fighting Tall and Long he will get clipped again. I really hope he does.
The strange thing about Joshua’s stiffness is I talked about this with another trainer. We talked about what conditioning we would do for him. I told him constant massages to loosen up his muscles. Swimming for cardio. A stretch coach for each workout and just boxing drills. Nothing else. He agreed.
Agreed 100% on your breakdown of why Hagler never dodged McCallum.
What I’ll add is that Hagler in his prime (my opinion Hagler of the Sibson and a few fights before) would have been a wide favorite in my opinion over McCallum because his movement was so good. McCallum struggled with Kalambay both times, I thought the second fight was very close. Kalambay beat him with movement. Watching Hagler move around fighters like the huge Fully Obel and strong Sibson and other slicker fighters makes me quite confident he’d have beaten McCallum although I loved McCallum’s technical approach, movement bothered him. In his prime Hagler was a different fighter than in later years, he was always moving laterally and around the ring. By the time of the Mugabi fight he’d changed and traded on chin and grit but although I love SRL too I think prime Hagler of the Monroe rematch beats him and Leonard was gracious enough to admit he waited until Hagler slowed down (sorry for digressing).
For the same reason, movement, I’d have favored prime Leonard over McCallum too.
I’m 50 and grew up idolizing Hagler so I’ll admit it’s hard to be objective where he’s concerned but I think the technical argument stands here.
Keep up the great mailbags, thanks.
Bread’s Response: I really don’t understand how people 30 years later come up with the Hagler ducked McCallum. If you were watching boxing in the 80s no one was clamoring for that fight. And no one as saying that Hagler was ducking McCallum. What you heard was Duran didn’t fight McCallum, instead he fought Hearns and that Emanuel Steward was keeping Hearns away from him. Hagler fought the big fights that the boxing world wanted. He also fought his mandatories. McCallum fell into neither category.
I’m glad you brought up Hagler’s prime. What people don’t realize is that McCallum didn’t win the title until 1984. By that time Hagler was already 10 title defenses in. McCallum won that title at 154 not 160. It’s ridiculous to think that Hagler ducked a newly crowned junior middleweight champion who never moved up until Hagler retired.
I think it would have been a great fight. But best night for best night I give Hagler a slight edge.
I saw on your twitter you said Wilder is a top 25 heavyweight ever. I’m not sure if that is accurate but I know you know the game. Why do you think that and where do you rate Wilder among heavyweight punchers?
Bread’s Response: Before I go into it I want the people to sit back and realize a few things. It’s really not fair to rank a fighter until he is completely done fighting. You can move up or down with each performance.
With that being said when I say Top 25, I don’t have an exact place. It could be 28, it could be 30. I think he’s in the area.
Here is my reasoning pros and cons: Cons…Wilder does not have great depth to his resume. Despite him having 43 fights and being an 11 year pro he has only fought two elite fighters and for being champion 4 years that’s not a lot. He also took a very long time to develop so he doesn’t have that Doug Jones or Henry Cooper contender fight.
Because in this era there are 4 belts available it’s easier to cherry pick title shots and contenders. I like to rate title reigns on how many consensus top 10 contenders one has faced. Not top 10 in a sanctioning body but top 10 by RING or another reputable source. Wilder only has 3 defenses vs top 10 contenders. He also won the title from Bermaine Stiverne who is not the same as winning it from Joe Frazier but Stiverne was the champion available.
Wilder does not look like an elite boxer. He has compromising defense. His feet are out of place. And he loses more rounds than any long reigning champion I have ever seen.
Pros: In an era where is contemporaries have tested positive for PEDS several times. He’s the only elite heavyweight that is outspoken and proactive as far as testing. Even Wlad Klitshcko who is well educated was not outspoken about stringent drug testing. In a division where more fighters have been caught per capita, Wilder seems to be the cleanest. That means a lot.
Whyte, Povetkin, Miller,Ortiz and Fury have all tested positive at one point or another. Wilder fought Ortiz twice and Fury once. He tried to fight Povetkin and the fight was cancelled. Two more of his opponents have also tested positive. You have be objective when we talk about this. If those fights would not have been cancelled his resume would be better. You can’t give him 1% of blame that his opponents are cheating.
Wilder does have 10 defenses of his heavyweight title. That’s a solid number for heavyweight. His contenders are not special but I’ve seen lesser fighters than those he defended against beat better champions than him.
Although Wilder is sloppy at times and loses too many rounds, his stamina, chin, reaction time and power are elite. He is also poised under fire and losing rounds mean nothing to him. He understands how to land his best punch consistently. That’s a gift. It’s no coincidence. His results are on par.
He doesn’t pass the eye ball test until he lands his money shot, but he’s always landing it. I looked at what heavyweights have had 10 consecutive title defenses and I noticed they are all in the HOF. I also made a couple of list of top 30 heavyweights. Then I said to myself who would I pick to beat Wilder head to head in a 12 round fight.
I am confident that he’s top 25ish. He’s not a great fighter. But he’s a very good champion. I saw some list where Max Baer, Jersey Joe Walcott, James Corbett and Floyd Patterson were in the top 25. I know everything is relative to era. You can only fight who is around at your times. So I won’t say Wilder can beat them head to head. That’s sort of a given and it’s really not fair. But I looked at their accomplishments in their particular era.
I also factored in heavyweights like Wlad and Vitali Klitschko. Wlad has had a longer reign and is a better boxer by far. Wlad has also fought way more top 10 contenders which is the most important factor in a long reign. But head to head is relevant if fighter’s are from or adjacent eras. And I don’t know if Wlad can beat Wilder. Wilder has more heart. He’s more violent. He takes a better punch. He has more confidence. The more skilled fighter doesn’t always win.
I believe Wlad is a top 20 heavyweight.
Vitali is the case. I believe Vitali would beat Wilder head to head. He’s a better fighter and had a better reign. But it’s not by a considerable amount. Wherever Vitali ranks historically I feel we can slip Wilder slightly below him and not be out of place. Vitali had the WBO then he later won the WBC. His two losses aren’t bad and he was winning both fights. His ko % is high and he passes the eye ball test. But Wilder has had a comparable career to a lesser extent. It’s sort of like comparing the best Mexican fighters ever. And if you say a fighter like Vincente Saldivar falls in right after the Zarate’s or Olivares’s you wouldn’t be wrong.
I don’t have an exact list of the top 25. But it’s not unreasonable for Deontay Wilder to be in the ball park. It wouldn’t be easy to keep him out once you get down there.
As far as punchers go there are a few special heavyweight punchers. George Foreman, Earnie Shavers, Mike Tyson, Joe Louis, Wlad Klitshcko, Lennox Lewis, Sonny Liston, Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano.
There are other guys who can punch like Max Baer, David Tua and Jim Jeffries.
I won’t go as far as to say that Wilder is the best puncher ever at heavyweight. I think that is an overstatement at this point. But I do think he’s among them. His competition level is too low to state he’s the best just yet. But top 10 punchers at heavyweight is fair and accurate at this point.
Hope all is well Bread!
Two questions I'm curious to here your opinion on.
1. Where do you rank Wilder P4P after the 2nd KO of Ortiz. Did he climb up the ladder?
2. Do you think judges should score more rounds 10-10? Many rounds were none of the fighters really do anything that goes 10-9 to one of them. Since total rounds are already even number, it should'nt lead to more fights ending up in draws. At the same time, a fighter would get less gifted rounds and promote offense more. I've noticed that Paulie Malignaggi tend to score more rounds 10-10 in comparison to others. What's your take on this?
All the best,
Bread’s Response: Hmmm…Let’s see.
10. S. Taylor
I don’t like ties. So no I don’t think judges should score more 10-10 rounds.
Happy Holidays Bread,
I've been a boxing fan since the 70's.
I just have an observation about Canelo as a champion and I wanted to get your thoughts. Back in the day, you were considered a great champion by how well you defended your championship. Say like the great middleweights of the past. Canelo might be a great fighter but can you really consider him a great champion? The franchise belt gives the fighter an excuse NOT to fight mandatories.
So basically he will get to cherry pick and settle into whatever weight division or create a catch weight where there is the least amount of competition. So how can you truly gauge his greatness or wouldn't it more than likely take away from the greatness?
Larry from Tampa.
Bread’s Response: No one has ever phrased it to me like you did but you make an excellent point. There is a difference between a great champion and great fighter. It’s one of the reasons why heavyweight reigns are so highly regarded. Heavyweights can’t weight jump. In other divisions with so much moving around it’s harder to be recognized a great champion. Carl Froch and Kostya Tszyu were not the best fighters of their eras but they were among the greatest champions. Great point.
At this point I consider Canelo a great Hall of Fame fighter. But you may be right. I don’t know if he’s a great champion as far as standing out in one particular division.
You have been calling these big fights so well - Prograis - Taylor, Canelo-Kovalev. I really appreciate your insight and your ability to stay objective through hype, controversy and boxing fan trolling.
I have a quick question today - how do you counsel fighters to employ the straight right vs the overhand right? In your experience, what are the pros/cons of these punches?
Wilder's straight right has been on the mark for his last 2 fights and seems to have comparable power to his overhand right - but with better accuracy.
Do you think young fighters should focus more on developing the straight right rather than the overhand haymaker?
Big George vs Bronze Bomber
Thank you for your insight each, blessings to you, your family and your fighters.
Bread’s Response: Thank you.
I think a good over hand right is a lost punch in boxing. Fighters are throwing more right hooks these days but a true over hand right like Dwight Qawi, Tim Witherspoon and Matthew Saad Muhammad threw them is not what’s happening these days.
When you say pros and cons…there are pros and cons to every punch that is being thrown. It’s very simple. When you punch your hand is going away from your body. Therefore there is an unprotected surface on you. You’re always susceptible to being hit if you punch.
What I will say is a straight right hand is faster and it’s snapped at the elbow. An over hand right is snapped at the shoulder and it takes a little longer to get to the target. But it’s a time and place for both.
At this point you have to go with Foreman over Wilder. But Wilder has a chance to clip anyone. This fight has to end in an early ko and here is why. If Wilder lays back and loses rounds to Foreman he will get clipped. Foreman punches too hard. If Wilder goes balls to the walls someone also gets clipped. I think Foreman has an edge in physical strength and he can move Wilder around and position him. But wow, what a shootout!
What’s up Breadman !
I wanted to talk with about Wilder’s improvements. The guy is getting better and better ! He is really what we can call a patient killer. He doesn’t care about losing some rounds (just like in the rematch with Ortiz), because he knows he can finish the fight with one punch at any moment.
Few years ago it’s was difficult for me to appreciate watching Wilder fights, but right now it’s a pleasure. He delivers good left hooks to the body, he is more focus on his footwork and his right hand is not swinging any more, it just goes straight to the target !
Mythical matchup : Wilder vs Cooney
Also I would like to know your thoughts on Soro vs Lara, the fight is supposed to happen early 2020.
Do you see some french boxers that you would rate
Bread’s Response: Wilder has definitely improved. I saw his 1st title defense vs Eric Molina and he’s more polished now. Deontay can really concentrate for 12 rounds. He really understands his strengths. Deontay’s low punch output is to his benefit and he realizes it. The more a fighter punches the more his opponent can get the timing down. Deontay SHOCKS his opponents because they don’t have time to get used to his money 1-2.
The fighter who can beat Wilder barring a big shot. Is the fighter who can make Wilder punch more than he wants to and make Wilder fighter on the inside. Mark it down.
Tony Yoka and Souleymane Cissokho are serious world class prospects.
Lara vs Soro is a really good fight but I think Soro waits too long and Lara has seen too much for Soro. Lara by decision.
Wilder vs Cooney…..Cooney is one of the better heavyweights who did not win a title. Cooney is better than remembered. He’s also an elite puncher. His left hook is one of the better ones in history. Today I say Wilder but if you look at Pre Holmes Cooney he’s just as good as Wilder. But I think Wilder has a better set of whiskers. So in a shoot out often times the better catch wins.
Send Questions to firstname.lastname@example.org