'The Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Mailbag Featuring Pacquiao, Oscar, Haye, Ali, Calderon, And More!
This weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' mailbag is a crown jewel. Today, fight fans take us all around the globe as we field questions relative to everyone from the U.K.'s David Haye, to Filipino Manny Pacquiao, to Puerto Rico's Ivan Calderon, to American (or when convenient Mexican) Oscar De La Hoya. Topping it all off, there was even some love shown for the legendary Muhammad Ali who was thrown in the middle of an interesting hypothetical that questions his odds of surviving in today's era of the super-heavyweight. So much for the preludes...As the summer comes to a close, we jump in the mix one more time while the water's warm...
Article posted on 04.09.2008
Maurice Chatman (St. Louis, MO): It was reported that new heavyweight David Haye has ruled out a bout with James Toney. What do you think is the real deal here?
Vivek W. (ESB): Right now, Haye is the proverbial "breath of fresh air" the heavyweight division has lacked, and I don't doubt that once he gets settled in the division, he'll do some great things, which may even include a possible unification. That being said, Haye is also very good at bumping his gums and although he typically backs it up, if there is a thought somewhere in the back of his mind that doesn't totally believe he can, we'll never know it. Obviously, no fighter would come out openly and concede fear, but I think it's pretty telling that he'd much rather face the guy from that rather infamous Rahman/Toney fight who displayed a total lack of heart (in my humble observation - as well as many others out there). According to the excerpts I read, courtesy of Setanta Sports, he did give Toney credit for being a "deceiving" fighter who "fights alot better than he looks", but as great as it was to hear him acknowledge that, somehow it kinda makes me feel like that's the main reason why he won't be giving Toney the nod as his next choice of opponent. Consider this......If you had to make a splash in the heavyweight division, and you have the option to face a fighter who's always been considered marginal at best, or face a future Hall-of-Famer who is considered to be over the hill but still - by Haye's own admission - has great skills, which one gives you the chance to make a bigger impact? Without answering that question, I think we all agree in unison that Toney should be the guy. Toney is clearly a better fighter than Rahman, and a Haye victory over him, especially a decisive one, does far more in the mind of anyone who considers themselves a fan of the sport. I won't go on record and say that Toney WOULD DEFINITELY beat him, but I think it'll be a far more interesting fight than watching Haye out speed and easily embarrass Rahman for 12 dull rounds. Then again, maybe that's what Haye wants. Is this starting to make sense anyone? (Wink)
Ricardo Bonilla (Anasco, P.R.): Do you think that the early stoppage in the Calderon/Cazares fight took away from Calderon's victory?, and why is it that he is never mentioned as a pound for pound candidate?
Vivek W. (ESB): I have ripped and raved about Calderon for quite some time and it often appears that I'm the only one who does from a mainstream media standpoint. I don't think anything he did in last Saturday nights fight took away from his image, and if anything, I think it only helped any argument supportive of his accomplishments in the sport. There is no better pure boxer in the sport as I see it, in the post-Mayweather jr. era. Nice, crisp shots, well timed, very slick defensively, good shot selection, you name it; There really isn't much negative to talk about in his arsenal, and for those that continue to talk about a power deficiency, how fair is it to look for brute 'KO' strength in a man standing 5' ft. and 107 lbs? If anything, he should be commended more because at an obvious physical disadvantage, he has still managed to walk away from the ring after 30+ nights of battle against nearly all bigger opposition. (Definitely in the height category). It's very upsetting to know that he hasn't gotten well deserved recognition. Placing a somewhat unknown commodity as a headliner on a PPV card wasn't a very bright move either, but hey, Arum's pockets were helped that night, even if his fighters personal welfare was not. In a sport where anything can happen at any given moment, it's often that same ole tune in the end. All in agreement say 'Aye'!
Paul C. (Orlando, FL): Now that the fight is signed, do you give Pacquiao much of a real shot at defeating Oscar Dela Hoya?
Vivek W. (ESB): Personally, I have a very hard time talking about this fight because I think it totally represents EVERYTHING wrong with the sport. If I were in their shoes would I turn down a huge payday of this magnitude? Probably not, but guess what? I'm not in their shoes, and I think I like that more because it allows me to stand in mine, which is right in their face waiting to point the finger on behalf of all the fight fans who are gonna say "I told you so" when this fight turns ugly. Anyone who has ever stood next to these two men know that this fight is a complete travesty. It has all the trimmings of one of those classic occasions as a child when you finally had the nerve to stand up to your much bigger brother while his back was to you, and as he turned around and came in your direction, you quickly learned that adrenaline and all wasn't quite enough to stop you from pondering repeatedly, "What in the hell did I just get myself into"? Granted, I expect Pacquiao to have more heart than some of us in the face of that adolescent adversity, but as marginal as Oscar has looked in recent years, I think he actually has a huge chance of winning. The size differential is leaps and bounds, and if Pacquiao doesn't fight 'above-the-rim', he'll be embarrassed in the end. It's that simple. I'd love Pac-man to come out and put an end to all of the pathetic drama that the legendary Oscar Dela Hoya has turned to lately, but I just don't see it being too possible. Marquez was a very determined fighter and it was highly debatable that he conceivably defeated Pacquiao in one, if not both fights. Oscar is much bigger, and despite not being able to fight too well deep in the heat of the battle, all it takes is a couple flush jabs (which Mayweather Sr. will keep him popping better than Roach ever managed to), and a couple of those patented left-hooks. Pacquiao may briefly daze Oscar, but the odds of ODH landing and badly hurting him first are much greater. Other than the bigger Hopkins, we've never seen ODH KO'd, so get that out of your heads fellas. In order to win, Pacquiao would have to mix his typical 'fire-burst' with some very Mayweather-esque defense, which most of us know is something he's never had. I'm not a betting man but if so, my money would be on Oscar. I just think it sucks that he has to fight a former flyweight to give himself some type of credibility, as well as his only shot at a victory against a future hall-of-famer still in his prime - after falling short 5 other times. And by the way, isn't it funny how he all of a sudden has come out and stated that he doesn't think he'll retire after this fight? I won't even open that can of worms this week!
Rex Tomsovic (Los Angeles, CA): Considering todays huge heavyweights, how do you think Muhammad Ali's legacy would have ended had he come along in this era?
Vivek W. (ESB): I've always favored a 'Super-Heavyweight' division because I think it's a handicap match to pair a guy 5-10, 218 lbs against a guy 6-7, 265 lbs. Mike Tyson made a habit of bobbing and weaving his way through similar guys in his heyday, but that he did it in his prime, and making it look so easy gave many people the false impression that it was. Ali was a tough cookie with speed, and adequate power, but I'd be lying if I said I never wondered how he'd handle Nikolay Valuev, or someone along that echelon. I think his talent, speed, and footwork would have gotten the job done, but when you're fighting a guy that size, how do you avoid a flush shot all night if he has even an inkling of talent and speed? I think Ali's legacy would have been the same as we know it today because as big as they are, none of the heavies today are nearly as talented as a prime George Foreman, or some of the others in that era. Tyson had the ferocity and explosiveness, but it can be argued that he would have gotten in trouble down the stretch, which is what - to this day - separates he and Ali. They call Ali the greatest, and although he tasted defeat on more than one occasion, I'd have to agree by saying that he's definitely as good as advertised!
R. Feliciano (Boca Raton, FL): Is there any chance that we will see another fight between Antonio Margarito and Daniel Santos?
Vivek W. (ESB): It was recently noted in a few Puerto Rican new sources that there was discussion about this fight in the buildup to the Calderon/Cazares fight sense both camps were somewhat involved, but to be honest, I don't think this fight is in a very high demand outside of those who support Santos who now want to see him elevate his name against a guy who has seen his stock rise lately. I don't know who would win a rematch but I can say that Margarito is not the same fighter that he was when they fought before. Santos is great, and that should be duly noted, but I don't think that fight does anything to get a real mainstream media buzz generated. Santos won't be coming down to 147 lbs and apparently, that's the only place that gives him a shot to get that rematch so I wouldn't look to see it again. (Stranger things have happened in this sport though).
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