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MAGNO'S BULGING MAIL SACK: ZURDO, FURY-USYK, THE 154 DIVISION, WHO IS HOF WORTHY

By Paul Magno | October 12, 2023
MAGNO'S BULGING MAIL SACK: ZURDO, FURY-USYK, THE 154 DIVISION, WHO IS HOF WORTHY

Every Thursday, FightHype makes some space among its video content to host boxing’s most NSFW mail bag column-- Mine. In this week’s Sack, I address comments/questions regarding the junior middleweights, Zurdo Ramirez, and who is Hall of Fame Worthy. Also, we take another look at Fury-Usyk.

154

Hi Magno.

I think Tim Tszyu walks through Brian Mendoza this Saturday in Australia. As much as I want to think that Mendoza can pull off another upset, like he did with Fundora and Rosario, I just don’t see it happening. This is just a placeholder fight, IMO, keeping the division somewhat active until next year when we see when or if Jermell Charlo comes back down to 154. How do you see 154 shaping up in the immediate future? Any shockers when it comes to new players in the division?

– Pete from SF

Hey Pete.

Jermell Charlo says that he can easily make the 154 lb. limit again and that he’ll be headed back there immediately. I believe that he can make the weight, but history tells us that it’s hard for a high-end player to climb up a couple divisions and then be the same fighter when returning to his smaller weight.  There’s a reason that kind of weight play doesn’t happen all that often.

But assuming Charlo comes back to 154, he’ll have three of the four recognized belts (and “real” champ status). Tszyu will have the WBO belt, assuming he gets by Mendoza this Saturday. Below Charlo and Tszyu, there’s a lot of parity, a lot of solid fighters, but nobody spectacularly dominant. There’s Jesus Ramos, who should’ve gotten the nod over Erickson Lubin on the Canelo-Charlo undercard. There’s Lubin, of course, who’s a legit talent. There’s Sebastian Fundora, former champ Brian Castano, Charles Conwell, Brian Mendoza (even if he loses to Tszyu), and Xander Zayas a little bit down the road. There may also be some high-end welters moving up, like Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, and Vergil Ortiz. Who knows, maybe even Terence Crawford could be incoming.

It’s not a dead division, but there’s a clear two-man top tier at the moment with Charlo and Tszyu being THE guys until further notice. 

Fury-Usyk (Again)

Hey Paul.

It’s been reported everywhere, but I’m still skeptical about Fury vs. Usyk actually happening. If it does happen, how do you see it playing out? I know you said before that Fury would “smoke” Usyk, but how do you see it happening? Will the Ngannou fight have any affect on the Usyk fight happening? 

– Tim S.

Hey Tim.

You have every right to be skeptical about Fury-Usyk. Actually, I’m a bit skeptical myself, especially about it happening in December, as reported, just two months after Fury’s fight with Ngannou...or in January, immediately after Christmas and New Year. 

Fury-Usyk is no sure thing, despite what’s been reported. Contracts may be signed, but as Boxing News Online from the UK noted: “legally binding contracts have been signed and...only retirement from one of them could now prevent this [fight] from happening.” 

Hell, how many times has Fury retired in just a year’s time? 

Anything can happen, especially from the Fury side...and double especially after Fury’s bank account overflows with the money he’s getting from the Ngannou fight. That’s why I have this little perverse corner of my mind that actually hopes and wishes for the former UFC champ to get lucky with a huge punch out of nowhere that stops Fury. The unthinkable upset would suck because it would delay or destroy several potential big fights where Fury plays a key part. But it would serve to either get Fury back to the business of boxing or close the Fury sideshow for good and let others assume divisional leadership.

And when/if the fight happens...I see Fury controlling the pace and space of the fight with the jab, shutting Usyk down entirely, and cruising to a unanimous decision. Usyk is too smart to kamikaze his way inside to engage with Fury because he knows he will get hit, hurt, and stopped if he does so. I don’t believe in Usyk’s “for realness” as a heavyweight. He got by Joshua, twice, because his style lined up perfectly against Joshua’s flaws and hobbled mindset. I question his durability at heavyweight and I think Fury will be the guy to expose his fatal flaw(s). 

Zurdo and the Cruiserweights

Hey Magno.

What did you think of Zurdo Ramirez in his cruiserweight debut? Do you see him making any waves in the new weight class? Joe Smith looked pretty good, too. Cruiserweight might be heating up.

– Sam Petro

Hey Sam.

Cruiserweight has, historically, been a dull and overall shitty division. There have been pockets of time where a transcendent talent comes along to make the cruisers interesting-- like with Oleksandr Usyk, David Haye, and Evander Holyfield. But that never lasts long as dominant talent tends to quickly move up to heavyweight for the big bucks. Actually, anyone halfway decent usually makes the move to heavyweight as soon as they can. 

It won’t hurt the division’s marketability in the US to have a US-based fighter like Zurdo Ramirez near the top. Ramirez looked good in his cruiserweight debut, but he was fighting another beefed up light heavyweight in Smith, whose power didn’t seem to move up with him. You won’t be able to make an adequate call on Ramirez as a cruiser until he has a couple more fights at the weight. 

There are some decent fighters at cruiserweight right now. Adding a motivated Zurdo to the mix will make things more interesting.

HOF Worthy?

Hey Paul,

Prior to the Crawford fight, do you think Errol Spence has done enough to warrant HOF consideration? I'm sure Crawford has, being that he is a two division unified champ, and his win over Errol.

Also, what current fighters in any division do you think are shoo-in's when their time comes?

Regards.

– Reggie Cannon

Hey Reggie.

The Hall of Fame stuff requires two different answers. 

For me, personally, I’d be a lot stricter when it comes to who gets into the Hall of Fame. Someone’s resume would have to be beyond stellar, truly historical to get in. The Hall of Fame would be greatly streamlined if I called the shots there. It would only be a place for the historically elite.

So, among current, active fighters, I’d say that Canelo belongs in, Inoue, Chocolatito, and, with the Spence win, Crawford. 

But, given present day standards of who gets into the HOF (which, IMO, are considerably lower than they should be), the Hall of Famers would be Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, Canelo Alvarez, Gennadiy Golovkin, Terence Crawford, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Naoya Inoue, Chocolatito Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, and maybe Kazuto Ioka. Gervonta Davis, Jermell Charlo, and Artur Beterbiev are right on the precipice of Hall of Fame entry, maybe one big win and/or accomplishment from getting there. IMO. Don’t kill me if I forgot to mention a name or two, this is just off the top of my head.

Got a question (or hate mail) for Magno’s Bulging Mail Sack? The best of the best gets included in the weekly mailbag segment right here at FightHype. Send your stuff here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com.

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