The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen "Breadman" Edward tackling topics such as unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev, Caleb Plant vs. David Benavidez, Jaron Ennis, the WBC's direction on transgender athletes, and more.
I just want to talk a little about the beast - Artur Beterbiev. While I think him and Bivol is going to be super close I honestly believe he's the last guy in any division you'd want to fight! He's a throwback reminds me of spartan warrior. What he does to people in the ring I can only imagine what he'd do to someone on the street boy oh boy! What I admire about him most is that he has ZERO distractions outside the ring. He's a devout Muslim a devout family man. He has a business degree and hes a high level chess player. So when you add high IQ together with his physical gifts, compact nimble feet, 12 round stamina and an excellent trainer along with those cold black eyes that's a bad man. He doesn't just break men down he destroys them. Marcus Browne won't fight again if he does he'll be cannon fodder. He beat down the excellent nail in a terrific fight and I watched that live and I don't think I can remember hearing such a heavy dense thud from a fighters gloves like his when they connected it was frightening. Can only imagine how it sounded ringside. He's life and death with any light heavy of the last 30 years and it's going to take an all time performance to beat him. What a fighter. Bags For Postage
Bread’s Response: If Beterbiev and Bivol fight in 2023, their fight will be for the HOF. It’s a huge legacy fight. I am also huge on Beterbiev. There are certain fights where he looks long in the tooth. But as a fighter’s career progresses you will observe the patterns of how he wins. Beterbiev was looking a little old about 3 years ago. Many picked the Nail. I did. But Beterbiev delivered. He did the same thing he did to Joe Smith. He seems to be as good as he needs to be and no one can seem to take his punches or hold their ground to offset his strength. Beterbiev is the total package. He’s just not flashy. He can box but its efficient. He can punch but he doesn’t have a signature shot, like Hearns’s right hand or Frazier’s left hook. He doesn’t trash talk and he’s not loud. So he gets overlooked. But if you know what you’re looking at, you know he’s different.
I admit I picked The Nail to beat him but I never picked anyone else to beat him. In fact I saw his stature years ago. About 8 years ago a smaller fighter asked me to spar Beterbiev because they were similar in height. I told them emphatically, NO! I knew Beterbiev had a different type of power. But Bivol is also better than anyone gave him credit for. Bivol has looked really good lately and I wouldn’t be surprised if he beat Beterbiev. But until Beterbiev gets over 40 and really starts to look bad, I’m not picking against him. Beterbiev seems to be a mix of GGG and the great Joe Louis if I had to compare styles. He’s something.
Compliments of the New Year must be coming out of your ears by now but that's the price you pay for doing a great job. Here's more from me. I don't know what all you are doing with Caleb Plant but the results have been instantaneous and the work is probably still in progress. Plant has a different confidence about him and congratulations to you, and to him, of course, because sometimes it doesn't matter how great the trainer is: the boxer has to listen, learn and execute.I'm not sure at this point how Plant-David Benavidez turns out. I'm not going to ask your opinion for obvious reasons. However, there are a number of imponderables.
The first is what shape Benavidez is going to be in. I have no doubt about Plant. Even before you worked with him, Plant had monster dedication. I have never seen him enter the ring in anything less than peak condition. He must be a trainer's dream. On the other hand, Benavidez has let himself down badly because once or twice he has not shown dedication to the sport. If he relapses, I'm afraid Plant might just be two steps ahead of him by the time they get to the ring. The second is what mindset will Plant bring into the ring following his crushing knockout of Anthony Direll. A comment I saw recently that he believes if Ronald Gavril could knock Benavidez down he can go one better is worrisome. Benavidez was more embarrassed than hurt by that knockdown. That knockdown cannot be an indicator of what would happen if he hits Benavidez flush. Plant's one-punch knockout of Direll may not mean he has prolific one-punch knockout power or that he hits harder than Benavidez who didn't finish off Direll as definitively as Plant did. All it may mean is simply that Direll never saw the punch coming. So, Plant must use his speed and angles to box to a comfortable decision. The last imponderable is how does Plant react to a dog fight.
In many ways Plant has been the closest to Floyd Mayweather in limiting opponents to a very low percentage of punches landed per round. To use common parlance, he's coasted to victory, he's hardly raised a sweat, etc. That's great but it's never preparation for a dog fight. That's why Plant crumbled when Canelo Alvarez decided he couldn't out-slick him, and so, simply walked him down and cornered him into a shootout. Plant needs to go to a whole different place when that happens. You, his dad, any member of your team, cannot take him there. It's a place where only the great champions have been. It's the same place where an animal at bay finds itself. At that point, guile offers no escape. He has to stand and fight fire with fire. Plant has the reflexes, the defensive acumen and punch selection to survive in a dog fight. What worries me is why he couldn't do it against Alvarez. If he couldn't do it against Alvarez, can he do it against Benavidez? For all his clumsy feet, Benavidez has incredibly fast hands for the weight division and he is heavy-handed, as well as an imposing physical specimen. Here's the thing, if Plant overcomes Benavidez, I don't see Alvarez agreeing to a rematch. That's not important. What's important is that Plant would be in the conversation regarding the greatest super middleweights of all time. He wouldn't be near the top, but he wouldn't be at the bottom of that conversation, either.
MM. Pre-1974 George Foreman v peak Lennox Lewis. Lennox was too enigmatic to stand a chance against Big George. At times he boxed superbly and made openings for his booming right hand. Other times he was so sloppy and took too many flush shots in senseless slugfests. You can't do that against the Foreman of the Joe Frazier and Ken Norton fights. More dangerously, he had fatal lapses in concentration. Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman. Of course, Foreman also took flush shots but his chin was sturdier than that of Lewis.
Bread’s Response: I expect both Plant and Benavidez to be in the best shape of their lives. The best man will win.
Foreman vs Lewis is an interesting fight. Lewis had that sneaky sudden power. He would have a chance to ko Foreman. But on most days I would pick Foreman. I feel like the 1973 version of Foreman is the strongest and most powerful fighter in history. Lewis wouldn’t be able to let Foreman touch him. Foreman was just so heavy handed and powerful.
What’s good Breadman? I saw you mention that DC hit man Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson in a recent interview, particularly in reference to Boots and the historical precedent of guys being so talented that they don’t get a shot. Hopefully Boots gets better opportunities than Mark because Tapia and them boys wanted nothing to do with that smoke. I don’t think folks know how good Mark was. He had pfp ability. In my opinion, him and Leonard were the DMV’s best ever. I actually was boxing as a kid in Finley’s gym in DC when Mark at like 115 pounds was sparring welters and giving them the blues. Him and dudes like Darrel Coley, Andrew Council, Daryl Tyson, Keith Holmes, and Sharmba Mitchell were our local heroes but Mark was the king of it. I’m interested in your take how his overall game and how good he was.
Bread’s Response: I think Boots fights like a mix of Mark Johnson and Roy Jones. But Too Sharp was definitely overlooked. He was on P4P list but he was every bit as good as Tapia, Romero, Carbajal, Gonzalez and Lopez. Giving all of them the eyeball test, Johnson rates. I think Johnson is the best Black American Flyweight in history. I think he’s top 2 ever from the DMV. I think he’s a top 10ish southpaw ever. I love Mark Johnson. I met him once in Vegas and he told me was inventing devices and getting patents for them. I hope the best for him in his life after boxing. Because he didn’t get the opportunities he deserved at his weight and in his prime. Rafael Marquez was too big and too primey for Johnson when they fought….People don’t realize how good Johnson was. Youtube!!!
I've been watching some Sal Sanchez fights and would like to hear your opinion on him. I started with the first fight against Red Lopez. How was that matchup viewed before it happened? It seemed that Lopez could not keep out of the way of the right hand. And at times it almost seemed like Sanchez was throwing it in slow motion and he was still hitting him with it! What was that ? Could you give your general impressions of Sanchez as a fighter? If he had lived, what would his career have looked like: Fernando Vargas or Chavez? Somewhere in between? Also, Sanchez won the belt at the tender age of 21 and defended 8 times before his death at age 23! That's ridiculous. How does that compare historically?Thank you and much respect,--Stephen
Bread’s Response: Salvador Sanchez is a top 2 Mexican fighter ever in my opinion. Right behind Julio Cesar Chavez. I don’t care how young he was. He was 10-0 in title fights with 4 of those wins coming against HOF. Sanchez was no worse than the 3rd best fighter of the 1980s. I have him right behind Leonard and Hagler. Sanchez is a top 5 featherweight ever in my opinion. He has as good as stamina and chin as anyone I’ve seen. He’s as clutch as anyone of his time. He’s had sneaky, accurate power. He scored kos in his biggest fights similar to Ali another boxer who had an uncanny ko % in big fights.
Here is where people may disagree with me. Because Sanchez died literally at his APEX, he’s NOT overrated but it did help him in a round about way. We never saw him decline. Imagine if Mike Tyson retires right before the Buster Douglas fight. People would imagine they were looking at the greatest heavyweight in history because all they get to judge is peak value.
I’m not saying Sanchez would have started losing. But everyone declines. Everyone gets old. We know Sanchez from his big fights vs Nelson, Lopez and Gomez. But Sanchez had some tough close nights vs Patrick Ford and Pat Caldwell. The only stain on Sanchez’s resume is he never fought Eusabio Pedraza. Pedraza was equally as good. He was long reigning. He was the WBA champion at the same exact time Sanchez was the WBC champion. Pedraza’s style wasn’t as pleasing as Sanchez’s and Sanchez was more of the people’s favorite. He was my favorite. But Pedraza was just as good and he outperformed him vs Ford who gave Sanchez fits. If you have another HOF champion in your division and you don’t unify it’s a slight stain at least. So while Sanchez fought killers, he didn’t fight the killer in Pedraza.
Other than that I have nothing critical to say about Sanchez. He was equal to my favorite fighter of the decade in Ray Leonard. I think we saw Sanchez’s peak. I don’t know how long it would’ve lasted but I think we saw it. Remember how hard of a fight the Nelson fight was. Had Sanchez lived there was talks of him fighting Alexis Arguello at 135lbs. Sanchez was equally as great but I don’t know if he had the physicality to jump 2 divisions and fight Arguello at 135lbs. Sanchez seemed to be a natural 126lber, max 130lbs.
So if you look at the landscape of the 1980s. Pedraza, McGuigan, Fenech, Nelson rematch, Arguello at 135lbs, Hector Camacho at 130lbs, Julio Cesar Chavez at 130lbs even possibly Pernell Whitaker at 135lbs if Sanchez would’ve gained weight as most do as they age. I doubt seriously if he runs that line up without a couple of losses. So even though it’s morbid to say. When a great artist or athlete passes away right at their peak. We only judge them from the top. There is no slippage. There is no overcoming an off night. There is no evolving because the trainers know your weaknesses etc. Sanchez fought a tough schedule but he didn’t have to go through what I’m speaking of. So his status is super firm. Great, Great Fighter. One of the best I have ever studied on film.
The WBC is handling transgender athletes in a completely different way than the Olympics and the NCAA are. Unlike the NCAA and the Olympics, the WBC wants transgender people born as men to compete against one another only. They want the same for transgender people born as women. Assuming there’s enough transgender boxers around, the WBC intends to eventually have rankings for men, women, male to female transgender people and female to male transgender people. What do you think of this decision? I was surprised to see the WBC jump on a controversial issue that hasn’t yet impacted boxing. I was also surprised to see them take a potentially controversial stance on the issue as well.
Bread’s response: I like the decision. I have an 11 year old daughter who runs track. She is elite in her age group and right now she’s running for scholarships to high school and further. I would feel bad if she had to compete against a person, born a male. Males have higher lung capacity, greater bone density and many other genetic advantages. I wouldn’t think it’s fair. So the WBC is getting ahead of this. I like it. I think it’s smart. And most of all, I think it’s fair.
Dear Mr. Edwards, I am a big fan of your work as a trainer and the mail bag, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and insights with the fans. I was reading through some if your old mail bags and it was just fascinating how you pretty much exactly predicted how the Canelo v Kovalev fight will develop: But somewhere during the third quarter of the fight, rounds 7-9 I think Kovalev will lose form. He struggles with his 2nd wind during those rounds. At that point I think Canelo clips him. He either stops him. Or drops him and wins clear rounds for the decision. Spot-on!
My question is to ask you to give us examples when you were completely wrong with your prediction on how a big fight will play out, what your thoughts were with your initial predictions and why it did not turn out as expected. All the best for you and your family in 2023. I have three daughters who are all national level middle distance runners, so I had empathy for you when you said how nervous you are when your daughter competes in her track events. Oh my goodness, the nerves!
Bread’s Response: I can usually call “how’ a fight will go if not the overall outcome. I’ve missed some outcomes but how the fight plays out, I can only recall missing one BIG. That was Mayweather vs Mosley. I thought Mosley would wrestle and grapple Floyd and just be busy. I’m still shocked at how things went after round 2. Floyd was actually the more physical fighter. He was also meaner. I knew he was skilled but that night Floyd showed me much more.
Happy New Year Breadman! I hope 2023 will be a healthy and successful one for you and your family! Hopefully, we also get some of those boxing fights that we all have been looking forward too! I have two trainer questions that I was curious about and wanted to get your personal insight.
1) You have a fighter that has been less than 50% dedicated during its training camp and you believe he will most likely not only lose, but will also be severely hurt by its opponent. Would you consider delaying or withdrawing from that fight as the trainer? 2) Are boxing trainers only under contract on a fight-to-fight basis? Unfortunately, many fighters have used the trainers as scapegoat when they lose or do not dominant a fight as expected. Would it benefit boxing trainers if they can get 2 or 3 fight deals from their fighter? This would allow them to have more time and make the necessary adjustments to improve the fighter Offensively/Defensively between fights. Your thoughts Breadman? As always, I really appreciate your time and boxing knowledge every week!
Kind regards, Eman
Bread’s Response: 1. If I saw a fighter that wasn’t dedicated in camp I would tell him so. I can’t say if I would postpone the fight because it may or may not be in my control. If it’s a huge fight, most likely I wouldn’t be able to. If it’s a small show, my influence would be greater. I would give my suggestions but at the end of the day it’s up to the fighter. If he doesn’t listen to me about training, most likely he woiuldn’t about postponing the fight.
2. Some trainers double down as ADVISORS to protect themselves but for the most part all you have is a binding verbal agreement from the fighter and his team. It’s a tough call to have a contract because if a fighter doesn’t want you anymore, he doesn’t want you anymore. At the same time it does suck that trainers are usually the first to go when a fighter loses but it’s the life we chose. No one made us pick this professional.
Personally what I do to insure integrity is I make sure me and my whole team get paid on the NIGHT of the fight. Often times waiting for the fighter to pay you after he gets home and deposits his money causes lots of miscommunication and issues. There is no need for that when the promoter can itemize and breakdown the checks amongst the teams on the night of the fight.
I also discuss my pay BEFORE the fight. Often times trainers have no clue what they are making and they are afraid to ask. I have more control on some teams than I do others. But I ask and I know what my pay will be before the fight. The pay has to be agreed upon. I don’t work on, “let’s talk after the fight.” “Can I pay you on the next one?” None of that BS. I have seen and heard about so many trainers that get shortchanged because they don’t have business sense or the courage to just walk away.
The 1st money issue will be my last money issue with a fighter. This exploitation has been going on for years. If the fighter has morals, talking openly about pay is not something that will offend him. It wouldn’t offend a person who is being genuine. I see it often but I mind my business. I can honestly say that besides some minor incidents many years ago, with a couple of slime ball fighters who wanted my services for free, I don’t have these issues. And the people on my teams have always been taken care of. I have even taken money out of my pay, to make sure everyone got a fair amount.
Often times telling a trainer you don’t want him anymore is tough on a kid who has no real workplace experience. That’s why I’m so open with fighters. I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to work with me if they don’t want to. Just don’t use me and give me false hope. But if they’re upfront, I would never have an issue with a fighter moving on. Some trainers do, which causes the fighter not to be able openly communicate.
Communication is the key to never having these issues. Good question.
I'll try to keep it short & sweet. I think in general opinion the 80s suffers from being right in the middle of two golden decades - 70s & 90s. But as I am researching this subject, I can't help but think that 80s are heavily underrated. With Tyson & Holmes you got 2 ATGs, guys like Witherspoon, Pinklon, Dokes & Tucker were terrific on their best nights. And if it wasn't for drugs they would have peaked much higher... So my questions are:1) How do you rate 80s among other decades in heavyweight history? Can you give me your TOP 5 HW decades?2) What are your TOP 10 best fighters of 80s HW?3) And how do you those matchups playing out if they were to happen that time: Tucker vs M. Spinks, Tyson vs Witherspoon, Dokes vs Holmes, Witherspoon vs Holyfield. And those hypothetical H2H matchups (prime for prime): Dokes vs Joshua, Pinklon vs Wilder, Weaver vs Chisora
Bread's Response: The 80s in my opinion overall was the 2nd best decade ever, but it was a slight dead spot for heavyweights. So the other divisons overshadowed the heavyweights, but just slightly. I personally rate the 80s fairly high. The 80s produced 6 HOF fighters. And if you count a comebaking George Foreman who came back in 1987, the decade wasn't so bad. Let's look. Holmes was the 1st great champion of the decade and his reign ended in 1985. Michael Spinks then reigned with Mike Tyson from 1985-88. Mike Tyson reigned from 1986-90. You also have to remember Evander Holyfield wasn't a heavyweight champion in the 80s but he entered the division in the 80s. As did Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis who both turned pro in the 80s.
So we call the 90s a Golden Era. But it's a Golden Era because of hold overs from the 80s like Tyson, Holyfield, Bowe, Lewis, Foreman, Holmes etc.
So I personally rate the 1980s as the 4th best era of heavyweights. The 80s heavyweights weren't as bad as advertised. What happened was the media wanted to discredit Mike Tyson who had a reign of terror in the 80s so they made it seem like what he did, anyone could've did. But he cleared out a whole era of top 10 Ring Rated fighters. And that's all you can do.
My top 5 is the 70s, 90s, 10s, 80s, 50s
When you say top 10 best fighters of the 80s, I assume you mean heavyweights. 1. Larry Holmes 2. Mike Tyson 3. Michael Spinks 4. Evander Holyfield 5. Tim Witherspoon 6. Evander Holyfield 7.Tony Tucker 8. Gerry Cooney. 9. Riddick Bowe. 10. Lennox Lewis.
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