The Left-Hook Lounge: Vivek Wallace's Q&A Session Featuring Cotto-Margarito, Hopkins-Calzaghe, Dawson-Johnson, Mayweather, and More!
Last Saturday night fight fans suddenly found themselves much closer to a welterweight mega-fight than previously thought as Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto set the stage for a summer showdown by defeating their respective opponents. As great as it is to see the smoke in the welterweight division begin to clear, most fight fans take issue with the fact that it isn't a result of the divisions biggest name (Mayweather) eliminating contenders, but rather a result of the two men who are actively pursuing his spot. In today's Q&A session, we take another in-depth look at fan questions surrounding this topic as well as many more.....
Article posted on 16.04.2008
Jerry L. (Santa Maria, CA): What other welterweight matches do you think would be good for the division aside from the obvious Margarito, Cotto, or Mayweather fights?
Vivek W: The great thing about the welterweight division is that it's rich in talent and very poor in excuses. Aside from maybe Mayweather, each of these guys have a clear and precise passion to fight the best competition available, regardless of any politics. The first matchup I'd probably like to see is actually Zab Judah versus Kermit Cintron because I think it pins two guys who have incredible talent, but somewhere along the line simply haven't found the right mental strength to carry it. Both of these guys do well in fights until they realize that they're strength isn't enough to hurt the opponent, and then it's like someone lets all the air out of the proverbial 'tires'. Zab may not be able to handle Cintron's power, but he's swift enought to avoid it for the most part. On the flipside, it'll be interesting to see if Cintron's size and reach advantage could keep Zab from landing too much power of his own and hurting him in exchange. I think this would be a great fight for both guys. Aside from that fight, I'd love to see Joshua Clottey square off against Jesse Feliciano. The way both of these guys just keep coming forward, how could you not like this one. One other fight I think would be great would be a feature between two of tomorrow's possible welterweight greats, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs Andre Berto. Both are relatively young and have shown great potential, but still haven't quite turned the corner on some of those skills that would get them over the hump against the Tier 1 welters. There are many other fights to be made, but this would be my top three.
Reina Bisedo (NYC): After seeing Cotto and Margarito win big last Saturday, who do you think the welterweight king will be in the end?
Vivek W.: Reina, the element of surprise here is what makes this equation so great. Who knows? I think each of these welters have a very strong chance of being the last man standing. Look at it this way....Antonio Margarito's thick beard could sustain Cotto's punches; Cotto is a better boxer than Margarito with equal power; But Mayweather has the defensive skills to make both of them miss, and offensive speed to make them pay, or at least possibly out point them in the process. No matter how you decipher this equation, each man has a strength that could put them a cut above the other when the final bell sounds - if the fights even go that far. Floyd is such a phenomenal athlete that it's hard to pick against him. Cotto continues to impress and is improving daily, but Margarito - the least fundamentally talented of them all - in my opinion has to be respected the most because not only does he have the height/reach advantages, but his path to supremacy was the path of most resistance. I say that because although Cotto and Mayweather have faced formidable opposition, had either of the two faced Paul Williams first, who knows if they'd still be in this equation as undefeated fighters? Margarito took a challenge that no one else would. He came up short, but it's possible the others would have too, so much respect for him there. When it all boils down, I don't know which of the three would definitely be the last man standing, but on July 26 shortly before midnight, we'll be one step closer to finding out as the winner of the proposed Margarito/Cotto showdown on that date would be the likely candidate to face off against Mayweather at some point to settle it all.
Arion W. (S. Wales): Joe Calzaghe is a much better boxer than Bernard Hopkins and is undefeated. Do you think fighting in the U.S. nullifies his boxing advantages?
Vivek W.: Arion, the mental aspect in this situation is far greater than most could ever know. Very few people really understand the whole overseas factor. It reminds me of a personal story of mine. As a child I was totally fascinated with Japan. As an adult in the U.S. Marine Corp that dream became a reality when orders sending me to Africa were changed at the last minute and reassigned to Iwakuni which was near Tokyo. A life long dream had materialized right before my eyes, and as much as I dreamed of that opportunity, it wasn't until I got off the plane in the airport and realized that I couldn't read any of the billboards, and that only 1 in every 200 people looked or talked like me, that the finality of that perceived reality actually hit. Now granted, there's no language barrier for Calzaghe, and the similarities between the U.S. and Britain are pretty close, but there's no true way to know what the experience will be like for Calzaghe until he gets in the ring and realizes that for the first time in his storied career he's in a danger that only he can get himself out of. I always tell fight fans: "A true champ will execute under pressure, anything else will fold"! Calzaghe will have to do what Hatton, Woods, and many other Brits have failed to do. Now that being said, if anyone is capable of doing it, it's him. With his work rate, heart, and ability, I expect him to get the job done, but if he goes home with his first loss, it'll only confirm to me there is no true way to prepare for such a gut-check. Sometimes talent alone isn't enough to get the job done. Come Saturday night we'll find out for sure.
Jarvis M. (Atlanta, GA): I had Dawson beating Johnson on points, How did you see this fight based on the final results?
Vivek W.: I think the best way to decipher the truth about a controversial fight like this is by watching it with and without the live audio. Few ever try this, but you'd be surprised how much your perception changes when you don't have 20,000 people chanting, leading you to believe one thing as opposed to another. After applying this method I got two different scenarios, however, both were still different from the final score count according to the ring judges. With live audio I had Johnson actually winning by one round. Without, I had Dawson ahead by one round, with two of the rounds being very difficult to judge. If you give those two difficult to judge rounds to the champ (Dawson) - which is conceivable in a title fight - a 3 point Dawson victory on the cards makes more sense; However, if you give them to Johnson, which is somewhat unlikely, the swing margin gives him a one point victory which is identical to the live audio method. Either way it goes, I think the fight deserves a rematch. Anytime you have a fight that ends with that kind of controversy, I think the best way to sort it out is by doing it again. This trend lately of champs having close calls and not wanting to distinguish their dominance is a bit unnerving. Not too long ago it was Pacquiao with Marquez, now we have Dawson and Johnson to add to the mix. Unfortunately, it appears that Dawson is looking for greener pastures so the very deserving Johnson is once again the recipient of a tough fight that ended with an even tougher decision. Big ups to my fellow Miami mate! Hope it all works out in the end.
Alfonso G. (NYC): Cotto fought a non-top 10 fighter in Gomez and was viewed as a warrior; If Floyd fights that same fighter it's reported that he's fighting sub-par fighters. Floyd defeats an aged Dela Hoya in a mega-fight and he's criticized; Cotto defeats an aged Mosley and he's deemed as the 'truth'. What are your views on this bias?
Vivek W.: Alfonso, as much as I think we can all agree on Mayweather's talent, I think we have to also agree to consider the question of "WHY" this constant bias has come about relative to Mayweather as opposed to Cotto. In today's sport of boxing, the role of the 'villain' is a very prominent one and although it goes a long way in selling tickets, it falls considerably short when it comes to winning over fans. To some fans, despite the magnificent talent, Mayweather Jr. can never get too much positive bias because not only is he the chief 'villain', but he's also the villain who hasn't been cooperative at helping fight fans see the best fights come to life. Cotto on the other hand is the classic 'Jekyll and Hyde', with a cool demeanor outside of the ring, yet still able to give the fight fans what they want inside the ring. I would agree with a great number of fans who feel that Mayweather Jr. needs to do more to solidify himself as the true welter king-of-the-ring, but I think that fans also have to look at the core of the issue as to why Floyd hasn't opted to take those fights. Those issues start with the governing body (WBC) that allows him to get away with being champ while not necessarily facing the best in the division. Consider this....The WBC requires basically two defenses a year, with at least one being a mandatory defense. Neither Margarito or Cotto are currently, or have ever been listed as number one ranked mandatory challengers to Mayweather under the WBC. That being said, Team Mayweather has a right to pledge an offer to their respective promoter/camps and get a majority approval by the board of governors allowing him to accept those fights despite them not being #1 ranked challengers, but the WBC also states that he can instead fulfil his defense obligation by taking on any top 10 ranked boxer of another division (higher or lower - Alas, Dela Hoya/Hatton) with approval as well. For a somewhat selfish fighter like Floyd that lately has put his pockets before his fans, this one clause allows him to ease out of a potential showdown until he and his camp feels the time is right. The fight fan in me wants to see the best against the best and I would agree with the masses and condemn Floyd for this, but more blame lies within an organization that doesn't force its champs to periodically face the best from other organizations. This kind of politics in the sport create a division between certain fighters and most fight fans. It's easy to say that Floyd should change his tactics, but I believe you have to grab the bull by the horns and start with the 'head' of the matter to kill the body beneath it. If the rules governing champion defenses don't change, the only thing in the future that will change is the name of the fighter pissing fans off, but the argument will still be the same as long as fighters are allowed to get away with it. This type of scenario is why Cotto gets the benefit of the doubt and Floyd has not. Fight fans are paying their hard earned money to be entertained and when a champ is concerned about making money instead of good fights, he'll be odd man out every time. This is how I could best explain the biased attitude toward Mayweather. It' somewhat self imposed and although there's a reason for it, there's technically no excuse.
(For those unaware, the Left-Hook Lounge has been extended to a weekly 4-part series as follows):
Monday: 'Weekend Wrapup' - Covering weekend event headlines
Wednesday: The Q&A mailbag session - Covering key fan questions and general 'buzz' from the streets
Friday: "Call 'em Out" Friday's - (Focusing on those fighters who choose not to step up and face the formidable foes/boxing 'buzz')
Saturday: A prefight analysis/breakdown on the night's headliner(s) - (Only on Saturday's featuring marquee matchups).
(Got Feedback or Questions: Write ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved).
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