The 'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Mailbag Featuring Berto, Mosley, Oscar, Mayorga, Jones and Calzaghe!
In this weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' installment there's quite a few buzz worthy topics at the helm. With a great weekend of Boxing scheduled, most of today's questions from fight fans deal with the fighters on that card, namely Mosley, Mayorga, and Forbes. Other focal points in today's Q&A mailbag is the legendary Roy Jones Jr. and his new tango partner, the U.K.'s Joe Calzaghe, whom also find themselves gearing up for a fight of epic proportions. Of course, a mailbag wouldn't be a mailbag unless the 'Goldenboy', Mr. Oscar De La Hoya walks past the coach section and confidently finds himself a seat in the cockpit, as one fight fan ponders how much of a difference will famed trainer 'Nacho' Beristain really make in his corner as he prepares for Filipino Manny Pacquiao. So with no time to waist, we jump right in......
Article posted on 25.09.2008
Marc Vilerio (Pompano Beach, Fl): I read your recent article about the conference call with Shane Mosley and Ricardo Mayorga and found it quite interesting. How do you view this fight playing out?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think it'll be more interesting than most are giving it credit for. People are so used to Mayorga bumping his gums and being reckless, but in reality, I see it totally different for two different reasons. For one, Mayorga is not some journeyman who's never done anything. His accomplishments may be limited to some, but in a display of power, this is the same guy that twice defeated Vernon Forrest - once by early KO. So he has indeed put together good fights and made a splash in the sport when focused. Secondly, as I noted in the conference call, few have taken note of the fact that against Vargas, Mayorga put a huge emphasis on fundamental boxing and I personally thought that was the best I've ever seen him fight, as he grouped his shots, took his time, and brawled only when necessary. With Mayorga, it all comes down to the ego. If he can just taper that machismo brewing within and fight tactically, he has a chin, so you're not gonna hurt him, and he has decent speed so combined with his power, he'll get to you. Some think he's a clown, I do to, but I think the guy is far more skilled than most lead on. Mosley is Mosley. He's still somewhat faster than the average boxer, he's still somewhat more talented than the average. He's aging a bit but he came very close to defeating the second best welter in the world because he's a vet that's seem many styles and handled most of them. I think in the end, this fight will come down to Mayorga's ability to fight smart, not with his heart; and Shane's ability to execute a patient gameplan, not allowing himself to do what he always does, which is take too many shots to land a couple of his own. All things being equal, I think Shane outpoints him in a decision. I don't see either man being KO'd, but hey, stranger things have happened.
Ricky Ortega (San Juan, PR): Could you give your thoughts on Oscar De La Hoya's decision to peg 'Nacho' Beristain as his trainer for the Manny Pacquaio showdow.
Vivek W: (ESB): I don't know if it will be the 'X-Factor' that it appears. On paper it seems perfect, but we're often reminded in life that when things get hot, paper burns. I think from a tactical standpoint, there's no greater person Oscar could have located to lay the blueprint on how to defeat Pacquiao. Where this plan gets a bit dicey - and I don't think many have considered this - 'Nacho' had a blueprint that was plush for a guy that was closer to his prime, and able to fight every second of every round. We have to remember that ODH will be fighting at a weight he hasn't fought at in nearly 10 years. Think about that. He hasn't FOUGHT there in nearly 10 years. When boxers fight, they're at a weight that they have to get DOWN to in able to perform. So if he hasn't been able to get down to that weight to perform in nearly a decade, we sure as hell know that he hasn't walked around between fights any where remotely close to that weight. So he's got his work cut out for him just to get there, which makes me wonder if he'll have enough energy in the tank down the stretch to 'pull the trigger' (sound familiar?). Basically, to bite from Oscar's quote, I think his [Oscar] ring smarts with 'Nacho's intelligence should make a very solid tandem, however, I think the true tell-all-be-all here is gonna come down to how well Oscar executes in the ring - or better yet, how long he can execute in the ring. I thought Floyd Mayweather Sr. had ODH looking better than I've ever seen him, and I thought Roach had him very sharp as well, but that didn't help Oscar against Mayweather jr. when his gas tank went low and he no longer had the energy to pump that fight controlling jab he was using early on. Bottomline, this is one of those fights where it doesn't matter who's in the corner, it all comes down to who's in the ring.
DeShawn Peterson (Sacramento, Ca): I would have preferred to see Andre Berto face one of the true welterweight contenders. What do you think of his upcoming fight against Steve Forbes?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think fight fans are a bit spoiled. They want to see only the matches they feel are good matches, but rarely do they take into consideration that sometimes it means more for a fighters evolution to be part of other matchups. Personally, I think this is the absolute best fight in the world for Berto - as it relates to this present moment in time. We just saw this same Steve Forbes give the aging, yet still very acclaimed Oscar De La Hoya all he could handle, and no matter what those score cards read, that pumpkin face look that Oscar left the ring with said it all. What it told me was that Forbes has the ability to land clean shots at high premium angles, and his defensive skills make it tough for him to get hit too cleanly more often than not. Another thing I think that makes Forbes a good opponent is that if history is any indication, Berto will need to get his red bull ready, because it's gonna be a long day. Forbes has never been knocked out, so we know it'll be a full 12 round chess match. Of course, there are other welters who are tougher and more formidable opponents, but relative to what type of work Berto needs, I think this is a great challenge that is safer than most others, but by no means a walk in the park. If Berto gets through this task, the lessons learned will go a long way. If he gets the unlikely KO, I think he will earn the blessings of many people around the sport even quicker.
Selwyn Johnson (Santa Maria, Ca): Roy Jones Jr. and Joe Calzaghe seem awfully friendly in their pre-fight buildup. Is it me, or is there some type of love-fest between the two?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think what people are seeing here is a rare occasion in the sport where two classy guys plan to let their talent in the ring speak for them outside of it. No need to talk about not losing to a 'white boy', or perform the Mayweather/Tyson type antics. Truth is, neither one of these guys are villains, and this fight will sell just fine regardless. What I admire the most about these guys is their total honesty about one another. To hear Calzaghe say out of his own mouth that he's "more concerned about Roy Jones Jr. than he was at any point with Hopkins" was pretty telling in and of itself. He didn't have to go there publically, but he did. He also spoke of how he feels Jones' speed is probably gonna be a real issue for him. Jones, on the other hand, has openly spoke of his concerns of Calzaghe's work rate and style. I think what we're seeing as fight fans is a rarity where the typical promotional garb (promoters included) have been pushed to the side to make way for a fresh, clean cut approach to a fight that really needs no false hype. I love what I've seen from the fellas because no matter how passive and relaxed they seem, we all know when that bell rings it's gonna be an all out war.
Jean Francois (Miami, Fl): With a victory over Steve Forbes, what do you see in the near future for young champion Andre Berto?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think a victory over Forbes for Berto will signal that proverbial 'watershed' moment in his career that leads to bigger paydays and equally bigger risk to accompany them. I think there's still a separate circle to sort things out. A circle which includes Margarito, Cotto, Clottey, Williams, and potentially Mosley - providing he wins Saturday night. Once whatever fights to be made are made within that group, I think the fighters that don't get paired up in that circle will try to unify with Berto at some point no later than summer of '09. Once again, this is why I think the Forbes fight is a great one for young Berto, because it's gonna be a schoolin' from an old salty vet that's safe enough to let Berto truly test the waters. If Berto wins Saturday night and defeats his next opponent, he will definitely be in line to face the last man standing in that circle. As it stands, I put my money on seeing him try to unify with Clottey first, because none of the other fighters appear to interested in facing him, but Berto and his camp would gladly take that challenge. Cintron would be another good option, but being under the same umbrella (Dibella), I think those to stablemates will be used on separate paths to ultimately spin the wheel at monopolizing the market, potentially bringing two separate straps to the Dibella ranks. (Think back to how Arum used Cotto and Margarito before they developed enough buzz to make a mega fight). All of this is pure speculation but I think regardless of who he faces, we won't ever have to hear fight fans rant about their dislike for his pending opponent. From this point and beyond, the straps get much tighter.
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