By Jon Uddin & Tré Berry | 12/16/2020
Tré Berry and Jon Uddin will discuss the recent Hall-of-Fame inductions of Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward, and Wladimir Klitschko. We also delve into who you could make a case for as being 🚫snubbed, also taking an in-depth look at the selection process. Also on the docket, 📽️revisiting Nakatani vs. Verdejo, where they go from here, and also we take a look into the very intriguing match-up between Callum Smith and Canelo that is set to take place on Saturday night.
TRUE CHAMPIONS ARE CROWNED – TAKES THEIR PLACE IN THE ANNALS OF BOXING
JON UDDIN – On Tuesday, the International Boxing Hall-of-Fame officially announced their new class. Legendary boxers 🥉🇺🇸Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr., 🥇🇺🇦Wladimir Klitschko, 🇺🇸Laila Ali, 🇺🇸Anne Wolfe and 🇺🇸Marian Trimiar were among the names of living legend fighters receiving the honor.
Congratulations to all the inductees.
However, the boxing hall of fame inductions have become almost synonymous with that of ⚾Major League Baseball in that who didn’t get the nod becomes bigger news than who did. This year is no different. No one can argue the credentials of 🥇🇺🇸Andre Ward as a Hall-of-Famer, but what will be and is currently being argued is if his credentials are higher as a first ballot than that of a 🇺🇸James Toney or 🇵🇷Miguel Cotto, who were both left on the outside looking in.
For my money if I was only given three slots, two would undoubtedly go to Mayweather and Klitschko, but the third would go to Toney, one of the last real throwback fighters. Who would you have gone with if you had a vote and do you think Toney’s past history with PEDs and rough personality had any factor in being left off this time around?
TRÉ BERRY III – Before I choose my three, I would like to put a 🔬microscope to the selection process, and why it creates an uneven playing field for boxers given the different variety of classes that emerges for a vote. Their selection process (on the men’s side) has been with them locking 3 specific candidates from the new eligible crop, to extend a 🌉bridge for them to symbolically walk to immortality in the boxing pantheon. While it sounds innocent enough, the context becomes a question mark when you dig deeper into what is established.
On one side of the pendulum, there are many people who groan, and are openly concerned about the IBHOF being too lenient in giving boxers the Hall-of-Fame 🏷️tag, and in most cases, it comes from when that year’s class is a weaker one in comparison to other classes, where it can be deemed as below standard – but because of their quota needing to be filled in a standardized set, some very good boxers, who probably aren’t worthy of the distinction finds a way through the cracks.
Now this year represents the complete opposite swing of the pendulum, as the eligible class of new candidates collectively is one of the heaviest of recent times in terms of greatness. The same problem arises, just in a different capacity, as there were at least five, or six boxers available that are supposed to easily be deemed “First Ballot Hall-of-Famer”, which goes a long way for those who want to truly be remembered as one of the all time greats, and being properly awarded for it.
With that being said, now I will choose my three.
Whether you love him, dislike him, or even hate him, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is one of the greatest boxers of all time, so he’s an immediate 🔒lock – anyone who would deny him of this honor either possesses hate in their blood, or for those in question, YDKSAB (it’s an acronym…if you know, you know).
Now here’s what I will do…..Andre Ward being the next in question. He was fantastic as a pro, a true Champion, however I personally believe that Miguel Cotto, and James Toney were better at the professional level, and did what they had to do against better competition…..but there’s a caviat to all of that.
I pointed towards the professional aspect, because one thing that locked Andre Ward into my second spot is that he was an 🥇Olympic Gold-Medalist, something that can’t be ignored. My selection is stringent being that the IBHOF never specifies that their selection process is strictly on professional merit.
For example, legendary Hungarian Three-Time Olympic Gold-Medalist 🥇🥇🥇🇭🇺Laszlo Papp was included into the Hall-of-Fame, despite his professional career being cut short due to Government interference of his career before even getting a chance to fight for a World Title, thus proving that an impressive Olympic run holds water in these convos.
With Ward representing the United States in the 2004 Athens Games, in accordance to become a 2-division Ring-Lineal Champion (168, 175), finishing his journey undefeated, and putting himself in the running as one of the greatest Super-Middleweight’s of all-time, I feel like his inclusion is a synch.
In accordance to the concerns about just 3 being included makes this last slot very tough on me. Specifying that I felt two boxers had better pro careers than Ward, I’m just going to go forward and name James Toney over Miguel Cotto.
The reason for my choice being that Toney at one point was regarded as the ⛰️best boxer in the world, while Cotto since getting to world level always had comfortable placement in the top-5, or top-10. It is especially difficult for me, since Cotto personally is one of my three favorite boxers of all time.
Miguel Cotto was truly great to the point, where I always tell people to look at how much he accomplished in his career AFTER he was compromised by the dirty hands of maligned boxer 🇲🇽Antonio Margarito…then go back to him in his best days and marvel at what he was able to accomplish.
Now as for Wladimir Klitschko, he belongs as well…..they say don’t hold it against a boxer when his competition isn’t up to par, it isn’t his fault, and that is true. The same notion also could be used that other boxers shouldn’t have to be put to the backburner when those facts are 🖌️brushed over in fell swoop – especially when those other boxers on the same ballot had the serious competition. Klitschko was dominant though, no doubt about it, but according to the way they select, the first four I went through is who I had to give serious thought to.
CONTENDER FIGHTERS AT A CROSSROAD
JON UDDIN – Now this past weekend 🇯🇵Masayoshi Nakatani faced 🇵🇷Felix Verdejo, a former Lightweight prospect darling for Top-Rank promotions who was on the comeback trail. No matter what anybody tells you Nakatani, who had a strong outing against Teofimo “Takeover” Lopez last year was supposed to be nothing more than a stiff test for Verdejo that would propel him into a big fight in 2021.
Well Nakatani recovered from two early knockdowns to come back and deliver the knockout on Verdejo instead, spoiling all plans in the process. It’s hard enough to climb the 🪜ladder of boxing as it is without being knocked back down and having to start the process all over again as was the case with 27 year old Verdejo. Nakatani and Verdejo is a tale of two fighters, what do you see being the next chapter in each ones story?
TRÉ BERRY III – For Nakatani, one would think sky is the limit, his path would seem rather simple. Nakatani’s worldwide notoriety came to him during the Teofimo fight, and though he lost, he became the guy that had pundits raise an eyebrow at Teofimo in an rather unflattering light.
Masayoshi wants to pursue securing another fight with Lopez, and being that Lopez by proxy is the Undisputed Champion, holding all the relevant belts in the Lightweight division, that’s the fight to shoot for anyway, and his incentive is to try and avenge his loss, while propelling himself to grand heights.
The concern for Nakatani though is that this is the 2nd time that he has had his right orbital bone broken, and it happened in consecutive fights, so for his sake, there is concern about his conditioning going forward, and may need to take time off as they proceed with ⚠️caution, so grand plans are stalled.
Verdejo…Verdejo…Verdejo…..this is a difficult situation for a good young man. After putting all his 🥚eggs in the 🧺basket, and dedicating his life to the sport of boxing, he became a great amateur standout, and galvanized most observers watching as the guaranteed next great out of Puerto Rico.
The only thing about the amateurs, is that due to 🪖headgear, and the three round limit, at times it can be difficult to gauge a boxer’s ability to take a punch, and their stamina for the next level. Unfortunately for Felix, as offensively gifted as he is, those are the area’s that has hindered his pro growth.
Now for a professional boxer, there is no more lethal negative combo than having a class chin, and possessing poor stamina, and for all, it is a recipe for disaster whenever somebody fights back. He could get away with it, if he had bone crunching power, but he doesn’t have that singular punch.
The 27 year old, if willing to take on the role, can be used the same way that 🥇🇨🇺Yuriorkis Gamboa is used now, with young boxers gaining experience beating him up, and using his name for status, but that’s a very tough way to go for someone who wanted more. The flip side is that would get him big fights anyway, which are opportunities – but as offensively gifted as he is, the young guns in the division have that ability, and a litany of others, which puts Verdejo in no-man’s land.
A hard pill to swallow, if legendary Trainer Ismael Salas can’t resurrect you and your career, then I’m afraid no one can. Though I expected more from him, I like Felix Verdejo as an individual, and I don’t want to see him get extensively hurt. Given the type of glaring weaknesses that’s been exposed for the world to see…..I would advise Mr. Verdejo 📦to retire.
THE SUPER-MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD – SMITH VS. CANELO
JON UDDIN – This weekend, 🇲🇽Canelo Alvarez has plans of joining a most exclusive boxing club, a RING World Champion at three different weight classes. The current members of this club include Henry Armstrong (3), Sugar Ray Leonard (4), Floyd Mayweather Jr. (5), and 🇵🇭Manny Pacquiao (5).
He will have to get through the rangy, skilled RING/WBC Super-Middleweight Champion 🇬🇧Callum Smith to do so and it will be far from a Rocky Fielding walk in the park However I saw that trainer Stepehen Breadman Edwards stated that Smith’s Head-Trainer, Joe Gallagher sees a vulnerability in Canelo and that the Smith camp is working on something specific “over and over again” to exploit it.
It’s been my opinion that Canelo and his trainer Eddy Reynoso observed something in Callum in his past fights, namely John Ryder and that’s a big reason this fight is happening. If you had to guess, what do you think Gallagher and Smith have planned for Canelo? When you look at both fighters previous bouts, what problems do you see Smith presenting for Canelo?
TRÉ BERRY III – This Super-Middleweight match-up for me is nearly as interesting as any since boxing came off of its hiatus. It’s interesting how boxing works with ⚖️weight being the sole metric of how to schedule fights on even ground, and seeing these two face-off is a sight, with Callum towering over Alvarez, and having an 📏8-inch reach advantage. I will make a full prediction piece on who I think is going to win, and how I believe it’s all going to go down, but I can specify what I believe both Head-Trainers have spotted in their analysis.
For Canelo, technically he has all the skills down pat, which would suggest that he may be a complete fighter, but he has a weakness, and 🇷🇺Sergey Kovalev took advantage of it before he was sent to the shadow realm. For whatever reason, Canelo only fights in chunks of the rounds, and Sergey Kovalev took advantage by constantly peppering him with the jab.
Head-Trainer Eddy Reynoso is as good as any Trainer in boxing right now, so I’m sure he noticed that as lethal as Smith is on the outside, he doesn’t have an inside game, so the trick is finding a way to try and get there to inflict damage. Watching the 🇬🇧John Ryder fight, being that he’s a better version of Ryder, he can try and use the same blueprint to get low, make himself a difficult 🎯target, and step in aggressively before firing, not lunging to give Callum any opportunities to counter.
It appears that some people don’t understand the magnitude of this fight, and lowballing Callum Smith’s skills, in this Canelo-centric boxing environment, but upon this bout being made, I raised my eyebrow, and said 🗣️“oh wow, this contest is really happening”. Just from that quote, you can see that I am expecting a great fight from these two true World Champions.