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Daily Bread Mailbag: Crawford-Ennis, Canelo-Benavidez, Jared Anderson, Richardson Hitchins, Zurdo At Heavyweight, Tim Witherspoon, And Boots Signing With Matchroom

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The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen “Breadman” Edwards giving his thoughts on various topics such as the future of Boots Ennis, Ennis joining Matchroom and a possible Crawford fight, giving Tim Witherspoon his props, Hitchins-Lemos and the Canelo-Benavidez quandary.

I’ve been a boxing fan and writer since 1975 and started my Boston-based combat sports PR agency, Full Court PRESS 25 years ago. One of the dozen or so world champs I’ve worked for is Zurdo Ramirez.

I read your answer to a question about Zurdo in today’s BoxingScene mailbag with great interest. I greatly respect your boxing knowledge and was thrilled to read that you believe Zurdo can be a world heavyweight champion.  

I am contacting you in regard to what you wrote about Malik Scott.  

He is not Zurdo’s head trainer but is a valued assistant who works out of Brickhouse Boxing Club in North Hollywood. I started doing work with Zurdo after he was released by Top Rank about the same time that Julian [Chua] became his head trainer.  

I’ve watched his work and I believe he’s one of the hottest young trainers in boxing.  

In addition to Zurdo, Julian is also the head trainer for Scrappy Ramirez, the undefeated super flyweight who will be fighting on this month’s Haney-Garcia bill.

I just wanted you to know that Julian is Zurdo’s head trainer not Malik, who works the corners for Zurdo and Scrappy.  

Thanks for your time and consideration. 

Bob Trieger

Bread’s Response: I apologize to Julian. Attribution in this sport is very important and it was NOT my intent to slight him. I don’t pay much attention to the digital world of boxing but in the times that I rarely do, I saw Malik Scott working with Zurdo, so I WRONGLY assumed he was the head trainer. Again, my apologies, I definitely wouldn’t want anyone to slight me, so therefore I would never purposely slight another fellow trainer.

Zurdo looks good at cruiserweight and under the right conditions he can get a title at heavyweight or at least fight for the belt which is always an honor.

Hi

Just following on from your Holmes/Holyfield mail from last week. Witherspoon was my favourite heavyweight growing up as a teenager, for some reason I took to him when he was about to fight Holmes and along with Hagler he was the fighter I cared most about.

I think what people fail to remember about the Holmes fight is he had very few fights, was coming of a long break due to an injury and had less than twenty fights in total as an amateur. His talent level was unreal but his motivation was slowly sucked out of him due to all of the nonsense with King. In a parallel universe he’s an ATG. Even with his under-performing career, he had some very impressive wins. Keep up the great work with the mailbag and your training. Regards, Dave 

Bread’s Response: Tim Witherspoon is as close to being a GREAT fighter as one can be without being recognized as one. He was tremendous. He had a good chin, big punch, smooth defense, IQ and a big heart. As you stated the politics of boxing and Don King were the cause of him not being at a higher level historically. What a shame. 

For context this is how good Witherspoon is. I thought he beat Larry Holmes when he was only 15-0. I thought Witherspoon and Mike Tyson would be a 50/50 fight, best day for best day in the mid 80s. And Witherspoon would have had a very good chance to beat the smaller and older Michael Spinks in my opinion who beat Holmes in 1985. I bring them up because they all competed and won belts in the SAME era. All are HOFs. And Witherspoon would have had a great chance to beat them ALL. Again, I thought he beat the great Larry Holmes. Watch that fight round for found and tell me Tim didn’t win 8 or 9 rounds out of the 15. 

In his last fight, Ryad Merhy beat Tony Yoka. He wasn’t supposed to beat Yoka. He did as well against Yoka as Carlos Takam and Martin Bakole did. Takam is a former world title challenger and Bakole is currently the WBA’s No. 1 ranked contender. I know the transitive property doesn’t apply to boxing but I have to ask: does Merhy have a shot to beat Jared Anderson? Anderson has had recent legal trouble and seems very distracted by it.

Bread’s Response: Tony Yoka was taking too long to develop. He was a 2016 Olympian. That’s 8 years ago. The Gold Medallist at heavyweight usually is READY to fight for the title by the time the next Olympic class graduates. Yoka is still basically a prospect, which shows poor development.

For example Ali fought in the 1960 Olympics. He won the title in 1964. Joe Fraizer fought in the 1964 Olympics. He won the title in 1968. George Foremen fought in the 1968 Olympics. He won the title in 1973…..

When 2020 came around and Yoka wasn’t a top contender, I sort of felt his progressions were going to slow and he wouldn’t rise to the top… Anderson is far superior to Yoka in terms of his development. So I don’t expect him to lose but he still has to fight the fight. In my view it’s good matchmaking by Top Rank. Let’s see what happens.

I never paid attention to Richardson Hitchins and didn’t realize he was fighting so I just caught the highlights, but man that was an entertaining fight at least based off the highlights (I will watch the whole thing).

Obviously I can’t speak on who won or lost. What I will say is that dude is skilled and beautiful to watch, his jab, combination work, text book boxer.

Again, I just saw glimpses, but I like what I saw. What’s his ceiling, can he compete with the top guys at 140 at some point? It will be interesting to see who emerges out of Shakur, Keyshawn & Hitchins. Second Devin Haney is looking like he’s rounding into form I think it’s a perfect time for him to go on a legacy run and go for undisputed at 140. I think he beats all of them with Teo being his most difficult fight, I just feel he will tame Pitbull & Matias. Third and lastly Crawford’s options are shrinking.

He should just fight Boots, that’s one of those Toney-Nunn, RJJ-Toney, SRL- Benitez/Hearns-type fights. I don’t mean outcome but just highly skilled guys fighting each other at the perfect time. This fight and obviously winning a belt at 154/160 do the most for his legacy.

Contrary to Crawford’s beliefs, this fight will sell well on PPV especially amongst the black demographic. Anyways I appreciate you as always and much blessings to you and your family. 

Bread’s Response: I watched Hitchins vs Lemos and it was an entertaining fight. Many people thought Lemos won. It was close but I will say, I didn’t score it but Lemos won his rounds by a bigger margin. So I can see why people thought he won. 

I also thought Hitchins did well in spots. His jab is REAL. But Lemos was putting some really hard pressure on him and he was able to close the distance more than Hitchins would like. You have to watch the whole fight and not just highlights…..

I think Hitchins has an upside but he would be the underdog vs Matias, Haney, Lopez, Taylor, Russell and Pitbull. So winning a world title is not a guarantee for him. I think he has major room for improvement. The issue is NOT his talent. He has talent, size and skills. The issue is, his development. He has brought attention to himself, stating he’s basically the best at 140 but I think he needs more time to develop. So now that he’s the mandatory, he’s going to have to either step up and fight for the title as an underdog or NOT take his title shot that he earned by winning the eliminator vs Lemos. 

Coming off of a performance where more people thought he lost than thought he won, will be a challenge for his confidence. I think if he slows himself down, literally and figuratively, learns to adjust his style somewhat to the pressure that everyone will put on him once they see his last fight and get physically stronger, I think he can win a title. But I wouldn’t favor him right this second to beat any of the champions. But that doesn’t mean he can’t next year.

Shakur Stevenson is one of the best fighters in the world and a 3 division champion. Davis and Hitchins are prospects. It’s not a fair comparison right now. We have to see how they develop before we can compare them to Shakur. That’s the problem with boxing, we do this way too soon. A more fair comparison is Davis and Hitchins. And right now I would say that Keyshawn Davis is little further ahead but this is not a sprint, this is a marathon.

Devin Haney has been looking good. He’s getting into a groove. But you can only fight, one fight at a time. Let’s see how Devin does vs Ryan Garcia. I expect him to win but he still has to do it. Devin has fought Ryan 6x as amateurs, so maybe Ryan is familiar with Devin. I don’t know. But I read they were 3-3 as amateurs so…

Terence Crawford or Boots Ennis don’t have many options at this point and by the time they get in the ring for their next fight both will be off close to a year. I don’t think they will ever fight but it would be something to behold. I would go to that fight ALONE, with no phone in the arena. I would want to have full focus and concentration on what they’re doing. The level of skill and talent that would be displayed would be fascinating. That’s all I can say about that match up but I honestly don’t feel like we will ever see it. 

What’s going on Bread!

I just watched that Hitchins-Lemos fight and I think Lemos eked it out by at least 2-3 rds. With that being said, it got me thinking what are some fights where technical boxers really dug in their bag to win a fight, I mean got savage. Off the top of my head SRL-Hearns, Floyd- Cotto/Maidana & Julian vs Hurd. Also besides technical boxers, what are some great fights where boxers changed their style to win a particular fight? All the love to you, Bread, thanks! 

Bread’s Response: I didn’t score the fight but I can say 117-111 for Hitchins is not indicative of what I saw. I saw a close fight with Lemos having bigger moments. Bigger moments don’t mean you automatically win. But it surely means you win those specific rounds. No way Lemos won only three rounds.

Some fights where technical boxers dug in their bag to go savage mode and win….How about Ali vs Foreman and Frazier III. Ali laid on the ropes and took a massive pounding vs Foreman then stopped him. And with the torrid heat of the Philippines, he buckled down and got a stoppage off Frazier in what many think is the best heavyweight fight ever.

Pernell Whitaker also turned into a savage the night he fought Diosbelys Hurtado. Whitaker was much meaner than anyone ever gave him credit for. On the flip side. One of my favorite fighters of the 90s was Michael Carbajal. His performance vs Chiquita Gonzalez in their 1st fight was awesome. But I have to give Gonzales credit. He was a big puncher and a swarmer. But by the time he fought Carbajal he evolved into a boxer and he actually took the next two fights vs Carbajal by being an in and out boxer, instead of the destructive puncher he once was. Those performances locked Gonzalez for the HOF.

Hi Mr. Breadman. I just saw David Benavidez apologizing for being drunk at a boxing event. Sincere question: was that apology needed? I did not see his behavior during that night. But I don’t have a problem AT ALL with seeing a boxer drink, as they are human beings as you and I. I rarely drink, for I am starting to compete in a lot of cycling events. And I have learned that a night of too many drinks is really damaging in terms of your training. However, one thing is not to be fully devoted to your craft and a different one is to apologize to the world for drinking.  Benavidez seems a good guy. I love the way he has been careful with his word selection towards Canelo. He has been both respectful and brave. I don’t have a problem at all seeing him drinking and having fun like a regular human being. If I were him, I probably wouldn’t do it. But I insist, an apology from Benavides was not due. Carlos, from Hermosillo, Mexico

Bread’s Response: I agree with you. I don’t think Benavidez did anything wrong. Alcohol is NOT illegal and boxing gets sponsored by various alcohol companies. But out in the open fighters portray Spartan like discipline. They’re “supposed” to live clean. They even abstain from sex close to fights. So most fighters don’t want the public to know that they do “worldly” things. But most of the fighters I know, DO drink. 

So it’s not something I would recommend but it’s something I accept, because it’s really nothing you can do about it. In David’s case I think he was embarrassed because of his past indiscretions that the world saw him drunk, but I don’t look at it as a big deal. But if he loses, a critic will attribute the loss to him getting drunk. That’s how boxing works…. Oh well. It’s life and most of the current fighters drink. David just got caught drunk on camera….. Again no big deal to me.

Breadman I hope you are doing well. 

At this point I think it’s safe to say Canelo is ducking Benavidez. And to justify his ducking he always brings up his resume. Every time someone mentions Benavidez his reply is something about Golovkin. I don’t know what one has to do with the other but okay. He says Benavidez outweighs him by 25 pounds but I think the he and the boxing public have short memories because he made his bones by rehydrating 20-25 lbs and outweighing all his opponents. And I would argue that his resume is not as great as most people think. 

Maybe I’m splitting hairs and maybe I’m in full hater mode at the moment! I won’t go ALL the way back but I’ll start around the time he won a title Ryan Rhodes-no explanation needed Alfonso Gomez-low level journeyman, Kermit Cintron-damaged good thanks to Margarito-Mosley-great but old, former 135, 147, Josesito Lopez-journeyman former 140, 147 Austin Trout-good win, Floyd-no shame in that loss but was dominated and never showed the will to dig deep to win, Angulo-shop worn, slow, and Canelo hit him with everything and couldn’t drop him, Erislandy Lara- a stinker but Lara won that fight. Canelo landed single digit punches to the head in that fight, Kirkland-completely shopworn, Cotto-good win but Cotto older, smaller former 140, 147, 154 fighter and couldn’t hurt him, Amir Khan-notoriously chinny underachieving former 135, 140, 147 coming up to a weight he had never fought at, Liam Smith-domestic level journeyman who held a paper title, JC Chavez- no explanation needed, GGG 1- draw that most people thought he’d lost, Rocky Fielding-paper champ, Jacobs-decent win, Kovalev-shopworn but still a ballsy fight to take, Callum Smith- best win of his career IMO, Yildrim- no explanation needed, Saunders-former 154 domestic level champ, Plant-good but not great fighter with only around 19-20 fights at the time, Bivol-loss, Ryder- no explanation needed, Jermell- no explanation needed. 

Bread’s Response: When you’re the face of boxing, you have a responsibility to fight the best. When you’re fighting twice a year and often once, you can’t take showcase fights back-to-back. Certainly not three showcase fights in a row. 

But we disagree on a few things. And we agree on a few things. First off Callum Smith is not Canelo’s best win. The GGG rematch is his best win. His next best win was most likely Cotto. Cotto was the lineal MW champion, 4 division champion and HOF. Then there was Erislandy Lara in 2014 who was very formidable and about even with Caleb Plant and Callum Smith who are about even in terms of merit of wins.

I don’t think Canelo’s resume in par with fighters like Oscar De La Hoya’s, Manny Pacquiao’s and Miguel Cotto’s. But as far as this SPECIFIC era, his resume is high quality. Remember you have to judge a fighter by his era. The best criterion to judge a fighter’s resume on in my opinion is Ring Rated wins. After that current champions. Then former champions. Hall of Famers are last because active fighters aren’t usually in the Hall of Fame and it’s something we can only give credit for later. 

Canelo has double digit Ring Rated wins. He has even more current or ex world champions. And he has wins over Cotto, Mosley, GGG and Kovalev. Mosley was old and past it. Kovalev was old but he was a champion at 175 so that deserves credit. GGG was older but still great. And Cotto the same. 

For the active fighters in this era, Canelo’s resume has to be top 5. Loma, Usyk, Chocolatito and Inoue are the only active fighters who can sniff at Canelo’s resume. As for Canelo choosing not to fight Benavidez. If he doesn’t fight him it will cost him some of his legacy. It’s just that simple. You can’t miss your biggest threat for years and expect people to view you the same. It’s just that simple. But I think the fight will happen. I think Canelo is just stringing it out a bit but at some point next year his pride will kick in and he’s going to fight Benavidez. Let’s see…

What up Bread,

This is regarding wide scores in a close fight with the Hitchins-Lemos fight. We see the two 115-113 scores but then everyone is up in arms about the 117-111 score, my question is, isn’t it possible to score close rounds for one fighter that you prefer and it’s not incompetence or corruption?

Thanks, Mike S from San Antonio

Bread’s Response: It is possible to score several close rounds for one specific fighter. I have watched competitive fights that I didn’t think were close on the scorecards but they were close as far as action with one fighter consistently edging it by a little.

In Hitchins vs Lemos I don’t think you can could give Hitchins nine rounds. I didn’t see that. I saw between 5-6 rounds Hitchins could’ve won. It was a draw-ish type of fight. To give him nine rounds you have to go out of your way to look for rounds to give him in my opinion. I never called the judge corrupt or incompetent. What I said was it wasn’t a justifiable scorecard. Not even Hitchins’s corner thought he won nince rounds. Listen to their correspondence between the rounds.

Hello Breadman,                          

What do you think of Luis Nery vs Monster Inoue?

This fight is interesting. Is there a rift between these two?

Nery seemed to be on edge when giving comments.

How do you see this fight going and what do you think about Boots Ennis signing with Matchroom? Do you think Crawford will ever fight Boots?

Not much left in the welterweight division. 

Thank You                                                                                    

J.B.                                

Bread’s Response: I think Inoue stops Nery by the 8th round. Since Nery tested positive for PEDS and moved up in weight, he hasn’t looked the same in my opinion. I don’t know if there is rift between Nery and Inoue. But I do remember Nery testing positive then he beat a popular Japanese fighter. I remember the Japanese commission punishing Nery. So maybe that is the backstory. Other than that, I don’t know about a rift.

I don’t think Nery defends his body well. And Inoue is as a good a body puncher as we have seen over the last decade. I think he tears Nery up to the body, wears him down and stops him.

Without any intimate knowledge of the situation, I noticed that Andy Cruz was with Matchroom. Cruz is trained by Boots’s father Bozy Ennis. I also noticed that Raymond Ford’s trainers also frequent the same gym as Ennis. Ford is with Matchroom and just won a title. 

So privately I thought to myself that Boots needs a solid fight date or he’s going to get frustrated and jump ship. Then I saw that Cody Crowley was going in another direction after a proposed purse bid from the IBF to fight Boots. When that happened, I had a feeling Boots would break his affiliation with the PBC. He hasn’t been able to get the BIG PBC names or the B side PBC fighters…. He hasn’t fought since last summer. So at this point it’s not about agreeing if it’s a good move or not. I just understand WHY he did what he did. 

Some fighters are good with not fighting. Some fighters are good with being protected. But Boots Ennis is a KILLER. He wants to fight and he doesn’t need protection. And I’m going to guess that Matchroom guaranteed some activity and a platform to get him going. Let’s see how it works out. It’s not easy getting opponents to fight Ennis.

No, I don’t think Crawford and Ennis will ever fight. Crawford is 10 years older than Ennis and he seems to be looking for other options. But that could change if Ennis wins a belt at 154. Again, let’s see what happens.

Send Questions to dabreadman25@hotmail.com

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