'The Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Q&A Mailbag Featuring Mayweather Jr, Trinidad, Roy Jones Jr., Oscar, Pavlik, Calzaghe and More!
By Vivek Wallace, photo by Naoki Fukuda - This weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' Q&A Mailbag is a riot!!! Plain and simple. So much happening in the world of boxing and the chosen fight fans who have featured questions asked to be served up straight with no chaser! On the slate this week is everything from Kelly Pavliks next opponent, to the highly debated issue of race in the sport, inflamed by the sports most outspoken figure, Floyd Mayweather Jr. With so much to cover, we taxi and takeoff....Our first question coming from a fight fan in my neck of the woods, Miami Lakes, Florida....
Article posted on 09.07.2008
Samuel Blades (Miami Lakes, Fl): You published an article about the recent Mayweather/Wright race related statements. Can you clarify the position you hold on the matter for those still in question.
Vivek Wallace (ESB): Bottom line here Sam, I personally think that racism is a very strong word to use in today's society.. I think that we as people, collectively in this country, have all come way too far to continue to rehash that perspective. However, that being said, I will boldly say that there is no denying biases of a very political nature. I think that's a more appropriate way to interpret Mayweathers comments because when you view it as a 'political bias', you have to realize, these are decisions being made for reasons uncommon or undesired by some other party. Taking it a step further, when you look at some of the African American pound for pound greats of recent history, each of them have been very artful about obtaining a victory. Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr., Floyd Mayweather Jr., Lennox Lewis, and 'Winky' Wright all take very careful steps in dissecting their opponents and won't attempt to compromise their gameplan until the time is right. Example, Mayweather is arguably the best boxer in recent times - skill wise - but his ring intelligence won't allow him to brawl until it is either necessary or until he can go for the juggler and pull the curtains, which is what he patiently waited to do until the precise moment against Hatton. To some, that was a boring fight, but when he needed to make it interesting, he did, and walked away with the results to show, which was the same KO that few thought he had the ability in him to pull out. To me personally, that was a beautiful masterpiece, literally handcrafted because he showed discipline to fight inside, outside, boxing and brawling, but each was used when appropriate and only when he needed to switch up. That's an art to me, but if the crew at ringside rather see a guy get hit alot, bleeding as he tries to overcome it, or if they think the fans viewing wants to see that type of fighter, they're gonna cater to that demand and come off as biased to some because it may not reflect the sentiments of the fans who don't want that. In an era where MMA is taking over and people are geared up to see a KO or blood, perhaps this political bias is a bit warranted, but my issue is that it often comes at the expense of many fighters who are easily amongst the most talented on the planet.
Reggie Matthews (Oakland, Ca): With Roy Jones Jr. and Joe Calzaghe now confirmed, what are your thoughts on this fight and the possible results?
Vivek Wallace (ESB): I think this fight will leave many stunned in the end results. Many have written Roy Jones Jr. off and subsequently placed Calzaghe at the top of the P4P contention list. Consider what a spectacle this really is....You have a guy who is undefeated, and knows that if he wants to solidify his greatness, he has to win one more match against a still deceptively formidable opponent. Then you have arguably one of - if not - the most talented fighter in the past decade and a half, who has been knocked off of his high horse, only to rise again from basement level ashes with the chance to effectively touch the stars! What better script can be drawn? You literally have two men who are damn near willing to die in the ring to secure what could be a final cadence. People talk about age, but this kind of fight is living proof why there is never a bad time for a good fight. I spent a little time around Roy Jones Jr. in the final days before his fight with Trinidad at the press gatherings and I can tell anyone who dares to listen, the guy has his pep back in his step. The speed was there, the flamboyance was there, the ego was there, and in the fight, the action was there. If he can bring that all to the ring again, honestly, I pity the fool that chooses to bet against him. Not to say him winning is a lock, but Calzaghe prepared harder for Hopkins than he has prepared for anyone in his career, and he fought at a weight that he felt would help him transfer his power better, yet he still walked away with only a split decision victory against a very cautious fighter that didn't throw much throughout the fight. One thing about Roy, he will not only throw, but throw in combinations, and group his shots alot better than Hopkins did. Calzaghe is obviously fast so that means with both guys scoring frequently, this won't be an easy one to judge. Hey, I don't know about you, but I plan to be on the first bird smokin' to NYC come mid September, and my bags will probably be packed a good week prior too. This is one fight I wouldn't want to miss for the world!
S. Miller (Dallas, TX): The Hopkins/Calzaghe fight was a very good example of the comments Mayweather made regarding the HBO television crew. Was it me or did they seem to go too far making Hopkins appear dull, and the opposite extreme making Calzaghe's efforts appear grand?
Vivek Wallace (ESB): Mr. Miller, I think this question digs deeply into what I aptly dubbed a 'political bias' in the first question. To address your question directly though, it clearly seemed to me that the HBO crew did very little to support Hopkins' efforts in that fight, but in contrast seemed very happy to announce and in some cases over emphasize Calzaghe's triumphant moments. Once again, I say that this isn't exactly a racial tone, but probably an inward bias based on the fact that they know the crowd wanted to see more action and one fighter was providing it while the other was more cautious. Perhaps even too cautious. And in all fairness, although I shouldn't find humor in any race-related topic, I'll go on record in saying that if the HBO crew appeared bias in this fight, they would get an open press free pass by most because it was Hopkins who made this an issue when he used a ticket selling ploy about "Never losing to a white guy". Anyone who knows him knows clearly that the guy isn't racist, but after that comment, if this perceived political bias was true, I don't think Lampley and the fellas were the only ones pulling for the 'white guy' on that night. (Wink).
Ray Mercado (Bronx, NY): Felix Trinidad and his team have gone on record to say that the Oscar Dela Hoya negotiations are not serious and that Oscar is only using them as a ploy to help make other fights. Do you think that this fight can and will be eventually made?
Vivek Wallace (ESB): Not at all Ray. I don't know that Oscar is definitely trying to use this as a ploy which was stated, but I see no way possible that this fight could be made. Oscar isn't going up in weight from 154, Trinidad struggled against Roy Jones Jr. to make 170 lbs and has vowed not to go below 165 lbs again. There's a major disconnect there and neither man is willing to budge. Adding more fuel to the fire, Oscar Dela Hoya has made it clear that he will not reduce his dollar demand in any fight he takes, and this is a major point of contention. Floyd defeated him after compromising a number of concessions such as ring size, weight, money, glove type, etc, and was still not allowed to get the upperhand relative to the money in a future fight, despite being the Champ. Trinidad ran into this same thing before when he tried to make a rematch happen also. Sad part about that, as legendary as I view Oscar, lets take a true look at something here. The guy has had 6 fights in the last 5 years, he lost three, many felt he lost a fourth to Sturm, and he walked to the dressing room 'pumpkin faced' after what was dubbed by him a "tune-up" fight against a fifth fighter (Forbes) of the six in total. No doubt he's still a draw, but in all fairness, the fact that we're all made to wait hand-on-shoulder for him to pick a 'farewell-millionaire' partner I think is part of the same political bias I continue to speak of when you consider that we have a far more talented Roy Jones Jr. who had to fight his way back up the ranks after being embarrassed and is on the brink of once again making history. These kind of theatrics is what has some quickly forgetting about the good Oscar of old, and simply wanting him - atleast as a fighter - to quickly vanish. In the end analysis, to answer your question, I don't think a fight with Trinidad will be made. Right country, wrong guy. Of Mayweather, Trinidad, and all other opponents out there, Cotto is the only one that will be both a decent draw, and agree to take lesser money. Win, lose, or draw, it'll be Cotto for Oscar next. If Margarito goes in there on July 26th and defeats Cotto "easily" like he recently stated that he would, there's no way in hell Oscar steps in against him in what would possibly be a very literal 'career ending' fight.
Michael Sharp (Charlotte, NC): Any word on Kelly Pavlik's next opponent and any thoughts on where the fight may take place?
Vivek Wallace (ESB): It was reported a week ago and subsequently confirmed that Pavlik is considering 'Winky' Wright who apparently has changed his monetary demands to accomodate the current economic landscape. It has also been reported that Atlantic City, NJ is the proposed site of the next Pavlik fight, regardless of who the opponent is. Although Wright is probably the frontrunner, it should be noted that nothing is etched in stone and Pavlik has a few options. Aside from Wright, also under consideration is Mora, Felix Sturm, and potentially Bernard Hopkins or even Felix Trinidad who still isn't off the radar just yet either. Of all those options, I think the Winky Wright fight does more for both guys and would be the best styles fight. You'd be placing Pavlik in the ring against a bona-fide seasoned southpaw fighter with a style that he has yet to defeat. A Pavlik win gives him a victory over a potential Hall of Famer, while a Wright win puts him back in the thick of things. I think this fight will be made, but rumor has it that Hopkins has contacted Freddie Roach for his services once again and as ballsy as he is, he'd probably even be willing to let this all take place in Pavliks backyard, the Cleveland Browns Stadium. That's a fight with an attached payday that I don't think either man turns down if it can be made possible. Stay tuned.
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