It’s Monday, boys and girls. So you know what that means: TQBR group therapy. This is a safe space in which Jason and Tim help Brent and I fulfill our court-mandated counseling sessions. We reveal our deepest insecurities, talk about our feelings, and bat opinions back and forth about the previous weekend’s boxing matches. Some of what I just wrote is even true, and everything that follows is damn sure true.
- Jarrett Hurd vs Julian Williams was phenomenal. Favorite aspects of the performances, and what adjustments should either fighter make if they do the right thing and have an immediate rematch?
Brent: Just sensational shit from both guys. Unfortunately, someone has to lose these fights but both guys enhanced their standing. The obvious adjustment Hurd needs to make is to use his height and stay on the outside. That’s not him though. Williams ate him up on the inside but I get the feeling both guys throw uppercuts in their sleep so close quarters is where they like it. Again, Hurd took home the loss but I just couldn’t be more impressed with both guys.
Swain: That fight was the light beer version of James Toney-Iran Barkley. Absolutely fucking amazing. Hurd is gonna need to avoid getting hit so cleanly if he wants to beat Williams in the rematch. If Williams fights like that again, hoo boy. Both performances were spectacular.
Starks: Julian doesn’t need to adjust anything — he just needs to keep the passion that allowed him to fight like that. He was clearly motivated by being written off, and now that he’s reached the summit, can he keep up identical dedication? Hurd definitely needs to improve his defense and would be better off outside. No, it’s not who he is, agreed. But we’ve seen the occasional kamikaze type add wrinkles where they’re still offensive-minded but fight more often to their advantages. See: Leo Santa Cruz.
Jason: This is why we watch boxing — for that one-in-a-hundred chessboard brawl between ballsy, thinking-man gladiators. It was basically crack for fight fans: booming power shots, technical wizardry, iron beards, and push-and-pull action. To the prospect of a rematch, the Neanderthal in me says, “Hit more. Now.” I just don’t know that Hurd could make the adjustments — shiftier head movement, less in-fighting — to affect a different outcome. Sometimes, crack kills.
- Did you think J-Rock had that kind of performance in him?
Brent: Honestly, no. I fell victim to the damaged goods mentality and I’m happy to admit that I was wrong. I don’t want to say this fight, in particular, was a referendum on how we view losses but as I covered in my recap it sure feels J Rock was intent on driving home the point to us, and himself, that a loss won’t define him and it shouldn’t for other fighters with uneven records. I’ve watched his post-fight interview ten times and it feels more important each time.
Swain: I definitely didn’t expect that from him. I was stunned when he walked straight to Hurd and put him on the back foot. He was manifestly fearless on the inside, and the surgical aggression he employed required a temperament I didn’t ever expect him to show. Christ Jesus what a skillset. His post fight interview should be required viewing for fans. Pitch Perfect.
Starks: Yes. I’ll engage in a bit of boxing hipsterism here: Way back in 2015, I’d ranked Williams my favorite young fighter, and even talked some sass at those who doubted him. Now, an unnecessary confession — when a friend texted me to ask who I’d pick between Hurd and Williams, I picked Hurd because Hurd hadn’t been knocked out and Williams had. But I cautioned that Williams was the more versatile guy, so I didn’t make the pick with much confidence. And I concur with these gents that his post-fight speech was remarkable. Boxing fans are often victims of the institution, yet they’re also, in a way, part of the institution. Fighters take more risks when they know a loss won’t put them in an inescapable hole. Fans are sometimes the ones who put them there.
Jason: No, but I’m glad he jammed it in all our pie-holes. Williams, despite a 26-1-1 record coming into the fight, had yet to best an elite opponent, and he’d been relegated to the discount bin in 2016 after getting bombed out by Jermall Charlo. No serious person expected him to notch a career-defining win at age 29, and against Hurd. Thank your maker for J-Rock, and all those cut from the same cloth, who understand the long odds, push their chips into the pot and say, “Fuck it, let’s go.”
- Miguel Berchelt AVERAGED 120 punches a round last night. Do you think it was his volume, accuracy, or a combination that did the damage to Francisco Vargas, and did he have to punch like that just to keep Vargas off him?
Brent: Berchelt is a shark. If he stops punching shit he’ll sink and die. Obviously, that kind of output is gonna be a problem for anyone but those weren’t pitty patter punches either. He was putting stank on them and when you combine that with the blood oath Vargas took to never defend himself, you get what we got last night.
Swain: You kind of always wonder when Vargas’s face is gonna go full “Raiders Of The Lost Ark,” but sweet breakdancing Jesus, you’re going to have to create some hellfire to make it happen. Berchelt was insane. Every punch was filthy. The even crazier thing is Vargas never stopped coming. I was glad that Joel Diaz stopped it when he did.
Starks: Let’s compare to last fight: Vargas threw more punches than Berchelt last time and lost, and threw fewer punches this time and lost. The difference, and this is total speculation, is that Berchelt was cautious of Vargas’s power last time and this time knew the guy in front of him wasn’t as dangerous as a couple of years ago, even — plus, Berchelt has clearly improved and grown more confident. Why not take the guy out if you think you can? Volume, accuracy, and damage were all part of the equation, but it’s worth noting that even a “Star Wars” Stormtrooper would hit Vargas 10 times out of 10, so accuracy is just a given against the guy.
Jason: Vargas, god bless him, is a machete dulled by tens of thousands of swings. He’s meant for one purpose, and when the blade no longer cuts as intended, you’re left with an unwieldy hunk of metal that’s as much a danger to the user as anything else. Berchelt kept punching, and landing, for the same reason people climb Everest — because Vargas was there. At that point, the fight became a waiting game to learn how much punishment Vargas, his corner or the referee were willing to accept.
- How much does Isaac Dogboe’s dad hate him?
Brent: If you told me Dogboe’s dad had promised his son’s corpse to a gypsy in return for everlasting life I would believe you. There really doesn’t need to be any further evidence of why father/son teams are a bad idea but the Dogboes are at the top of the list.
Swain: I go into quite a bit of detail about this in my column, but that was a completely fucking incompetent job of corner work by Paul Dogboe. That fight should’ve been stopped after the sixth round.
Starks: The only thing I can figure is, the first fight was relatively close on the cards if not in reality, so the thinking was, we can get him if we just keep trying? It’s true, boxing trainer dads are weirdly too willing to see their sons go down in flames. Probably they’re like, “I’ve pushed him this hard to get to this moment by being tough on him, he’ll rise to the occasion.” Or maybe they’re just dumb assholes.
Jason: Dogboe absorbed more than 300 punches against Emanuel Navarrete, including nearly 250 power shots, and I’m certain Paul Dogboe was convinced after each that the very next punch coming back from his boy was the haymaker that would bring the junior featherweight title back to the family. (None of them, for the record, did.) Fathers tend to make shitty coaches, for more reasons than we can catalog here, but in boxing, that shortcoming can have real-life consequences. The old man has supposedly already retired from training, and now Isaac may be washed at age 24. The titanically dysfunctional coach-son dynamic remains undefeated.
- How highly do you rate Navarrete after back to back performances like that? Is he that good or is Dogboe just tailor-made for him?
Brent: He definitely has Dogboe’s number (which hopefully is 911) but at his size, he’s a problem for anyone at 122. Reminds me a bit of a young Celestino Caballero.
Swain: Navarrete is really good, and Dogboe is also tailor-made for him. He throws a lot of punches, he’s got incredibly long arms, his technique is excellent, and he hits like a ton of bricks. He made Dogboe look like a clumsy amateur, and he didn’t have any trouble doing it.
Starks: Got nothing to add to this. Now I wanna see what he does against a Rey Vargas or Daniel Roman. He proved he can beat Dogboe. And beat him and beat him and beat him and beat him and…
Jason: As in most everything, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Dogboe too often fought within range and did little to disrupt his opponent’s timing. But Navarrete would seem to have the blend of length, pop, accuracy, and activity to take on nearly any challenge in the division. Guillermo Rigondeaux might have an argument, but we won’t hold our breath waiting for El Chacal to test that theory.