Aftermath: WBSS, Dubois and Estrada
Photos: WBSS / Julian Finney/Getty Images
Danny Winterbottom, Tom Craze, Lee Gormley and Chris Williamson reflect on the weekend's boxing action around the world, including the first WBSS semi-finals, another win for Daniel Dubois and Juan Francisco Estrada's victory against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai...
BM: Does Regis Prograis’ performance against Kiryl Relikh in the WBSS semi-finals make him the top 140lb-er in the world right now?
DW: Prograis is an excellent fighter but he needs to face and defeat Josh Taylor to be considered the number 1 at 140. I wouldn’t totally write off Jack Catterall either, he’s a real talent who tends to fight at the level of his opposition and if he looks good against Maurice Hooker will be right in the mix.
TC: In terms of best wins and record at the weight, only Mikey Garcia has a claim to be above Prograis. Last night's six-round dissection of Kiryl Relikh was hugely impressive, and the kind of statement that should see him start slight favourite against either Josh Taylor or Ivan Baranchyk in the final. Prograis vs Taylor is the kind of final that the WBSS was designed for and, should we see it, could be an absolute war.
LG: It's a very interesting division at the moment and Prograis does look to be the leading man after his latest victory (with Mikey Garcia out of the picture). He was brilliant against Relikh at times, but showed some signs of weakness, and a WBSS final against Josh Taylor will be a very intriguing clash. Maurice Hooker is a very underrated champion but the winner of Prograis versus Taylor (providing he beats Baranchyk as widely expected) will be the top dog for me.
CW: Prior to Prograis’ impressive stoppage of WBA champ Relikh, BM ranked Prograis at number 2 behind WBC champ “proper” Jose Ramirez, but in truth the division has been wide open since undisputed champ Terence Crawford moved up to welterweight. As Tom points out, the WBSS will crown a new and worthy champ when the final plays out later in the year so for now I’ll enjoy watching it happen without anointing a clear number 1 just yet.
BM: Nonito Donaire is now in the WBSS bantam final. Where does he rate among the lower weight greats of the last decade or two?
DW: Donaire is a lower weight class hero! From the highlight reel KO’s of Vic Darchinyan and Fernando Montiel to his brave past prime effort against Carl Frampton at featherweight, he has done it all. Moving back down to bantamweight seems to have revitalised him and he will most likely now get a chance to test the credentials of Naoya Inoue in the WBSS final.
TC: Very highly indeed. His run at 115lbs - and his previous stint around 118lbs - mean that he's already well in this kind of conversation. His decision to drop back down from featherweight to give bantam another go was fairly remarkable for a man in his mid-thirties. The fact that he's competing at a high level and winning underlines what a class act the Filipino really is. In truth, last night's win over an unheralded late substitute in Stephon Young doesn't add much to his legacy on its own, despite Donaire rolling back the years with that signature left hook to end proceedings. Where it puts him is more significant, though, and a likely showdown with Naoya Inoue feels almost like a clash of two different generations. That's an incredibly tough match-up for Donaire, but you can never quite write him off completely.
LG: Donaire is a legend for sure and his current success at this later stage of his career is continuing to boost his legacy as one of the best lighter weight fighters of recent times. There have been plenty of great champions across the lighter divisions the last two decades, with the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao etc, and Donaire has impressed too with his career feats.
CW: I was lucky enough to watch Donaire live in Belfast almost exactly a year ago versus Carl Frampton in what I assumed was an honourable farewell, at least at the top level. Since then, injuries to Ryan Burnett and Zolani Tete have arguably assisted Nonito in winning and defending yet another world title while advancing to the WBSS final. None of that is Donaire’s fault and he has taken his chances well, the old man looking impressive against Stephon Young, particularly the patented left-hook finisher. Donaire’s achievements go way beyond the multiple number of titles he’s collected, just look at who he has taken on and - as importantly - when he’s done so. Vic Darchinyan was a stone-cold intimidator when Donaire undressed him all the way back in 2007 and losing challenges to Guillermo Rigondeaux and Nicholas Walters at featherweight were almost foolishly bold. A future in the IBHOF hall of fame surely awaits awaits for the evergreen Filipino.
BM: After his victory against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, is Juan Francisco Estrada a serious P4P player now?
TC: Estrada should be sitting comfortably in any P4P top 10 worthy of the name. There was an argument that he could have slipped into one of the lower rungs before his latest (and most notable) win, but now it feels indisputable. Estrada, who for stretches outboxed a consensus P4P top 10 fighter in Srisaket on Friday, is a joy to watch. If he’s not there on pure ability, he’s now got the statement win to back it up. For me, Lomachenko, Crawford, Usyk, Inoue, and Canelo make up a rock solid top 5 - and there are several combinations there that make sense, if you’re ordering them - but Estrada has as much of a claim as anyone for the places immediately behind - and Srisaket should still find a spot in most credible lists, too.
BM: Daniel Dubois was in winning action again on Saturday. There is lots of talk of possible Joe Joyce fight for the young heavyweight. Who do you fancy if it comes off this year?
DW: Fair play to Dubois calling for the Joyce fight but at 21 he’s a baby for a heavyweight so I’m not too sure what the rush is. Joyce is much more advanced at this stage having faced and beaten more dangerous opposition and I thought last night against Richard Lartey showed Daniel still has a lot to learn. He is a better boxer than given credit for and slightly overrated as a puncher. Joyce’s juggernaut style and Dubois' fondness for a tear-up could make for heavyweight carnage! It’s a tricky one to call. If it happens in the next couple of months I’d favour Joyce, and if I were advising Joe I’d push for it to happen ASAP, as Dubois will continue to improve.
TC: To be completely honest, the more I hear about it, the less I think it's going to happen any time soon. Joyce has already intimated - quite rightly - that the risk:reward ratio might not make the most sense for him. Given his status as one of the three WBA 'champions', he could be in line for the likes of Manuel Charr, or, as mandatory for Agit Kabayel, go the route of adding the European title to his collection. Right now, I'd lean towards Joyce - he's probably at his peak (or something close to) and has a significant edge in experience. Stylistically, it's a fascinating match-up, but given Dubois's age and obvious physical talents, any gap between them will be closing fast.
LG: Dubois has been matched competitively so far and has looked good, especially this most recent fight. I enjoyed watching Joyce in the amateurs but he doesn't seem to have adapted to the pros as well as expected and his constant changing of coaches won't help. If they were to meet next then I'd actually fancy Dubois to win by knockout. If it was to happen further down the line and Joyce has had a longer time for gelling with Adam Booth, then I'd maybe favour him more. It's a top fight, hopefully it happens soon enough.
CW: Dubois’ exciting TKO of Richard Lartey in front of the unmistakable ringside frame of Joe Joyce at Wembley really did tease what is a lovely match-up and one which is very hard to confidently pick a winner of. If forced to, I’d plump for the raw Dubois to land that heavy right-hand and stop the more seasoned Commonwealth champ within six frantic rounds.