The 'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Mailbag Featuring The Klitschko Brothers, Pavlik, Hopkins, Dawson, Tarver, and More!
This week's 'Left-Hook Lounge' installment opens dialogue on arguably the hottest topics in the sport. Making the cut this week is the returning Ukranian great, Vitaly Klitschko, who opened many eyes this past weekend as he turned the proverbial 'cupcake' into a cake walk. Other prominent fighters who find themselves in the mix for this weeks mailbag is the emerging 'Bad' Chad Dawson and the submerging Antonio Tarver. Back for encore performances is a few of the usual suspects, Kelly Pavlik and Bernard Hopkins, who find themselves on the brink of a huge showdown by weeks end. All in all, there's quite a bit to cover so rather than talking about it, we now dig in! Our first question comes from across the pond where a UK based fight fan wanted to know the following..........
Article posted on 15.10.2008
Erik Adams (London, UK): After Vitali Klitschko's dominating performance last Saturday against Samuel Peter, do you think that answers the questions many have about him being the top heavyweight of this era?
Vivek W. (ESB): Before answering this question, I'll drop a brief disclosure by saying that my answer in no way, shape, or form should be viewed as a way to take away from the accomplishments of anyone, so interpret it carefully and take it for what it's worth. Ok, here goes.....Personally, I think the Vitali victory against Peter showed us more of what Peter isn't, as opposed to more of what Vitali actually is right now. Secondly, I'd have to know what you define as "THIS ERA". If you mean today's heavyweight division, I would be inclined to say he's formidable, but that alone wouldn't seal it for him. Where my questions about him come into play is, you have to consider the fact that an era comes and goes with victory and defeat. People mistake era's for defined time capsules, (IE. this year through that year), but I see them as more a situation where you have a new man rising in dominance, which brings a new era as one former champ falls. Vitali was doing well when the fight was stopped, but last I checked, he lost the fight to the man that he needed to defeat to be called the true heavyweight king of his initial era. Considering that he never defeated him, (Lewis), I think you can't really say that he was the 'man' of that era. Now, here we are 4 years later and he's in a new era dominated by his brother, but they won't face one another, so even in this era there are questions. I think Vitali is a better fundamental boxer than Wladimir, but Wladimir has owned that mantle in the absence of Lewis, and unless and until they face off, I think you still have to say Wladimir is the man. Remember, Wladimir defeated Peter as well, and even though it was a closer fight, it was also on a different night. There are some other things Vitali could do in the ring to help his legacy as it relates to this era, but personally, I think it's safe to say that they MAY both have question marks attached to their legacies because in the end, no matter how great they are, they're ruling in a very weakened state of the union. If Lewis, a young Mike Tyson, or even a younger Holyfield were still lurking on the prowl, does anyone (biased or non-biased fans) think Vitali would have gotten a share of the hardware that easily? So, that's where the questions come into play with me. As for your question, I think you have to define exactly when you would consider his era. Lewis clearly ruled VK's last era, and unless he faces his brother who has done more lately, Wladimir will rule this one, making VK a subplot once again.
Reginald Starks (Brooklyn, NY): Would you agree with Floyd Mayweather Jr. that Chad Dawson is the true pound for pound king in his absence?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think that Chad Dawson proves a theory that I've been very open about relative to today's whole mythical P4P discussion. I've always said that it has become more of a popularity contest because many of the guys touted in that spot today are great fighters, but they're more box office draws and fan faves than pound for pound candidates. To highlight this theory, I was talking to a friend recently who was traveling during the time of the Dawson/Tarver fight and told me when he read the paper the next morning, he couldn't believe that Tarver lost to a guy he never heard of. Now he knows of Antonio Margarito, but had no earthly idea who Chad Dawson was. That scenario totally underlined what's wrong with Boxing today. When Mayweather was the P4P King, many said they didn't think he deserved it because he was more defensive. You look at a guy like Dawson who is less defensive - although still adequate - and simply brilliant on offense, and to know that the sports writers and media of the sport don't tout his talent or showcase him better goes beyond the scope of his promoter. A guy that talented deserves to be given the spotlight much more than he gets. I don't know if I would say he's THEE P4P King, but to see guys like Pacquiao, Pavlik, or even Calzaghe placed ahead of him I think shows a few kinks in the system when you analyze the pure talent platform, as opposed to the 'cheeks-in-seats' platform. I love and respect all of those fighters mentioned, but I'll continue to say the only reason the Ivan Calderon's of the world are not touted the same is because they bring less rave to the sport. There's no logical or ethical reason that Calderon, Dawson, and a few others out there should not be higher on the list than guys like Margarito, who bring great action, but don't actually bring the purest form of the sweet science. I can't say Dawson should be THEE P4P man right now, but he certainly opened many eyes and added his name to the mix. I hope!
Richard S. (Miami Lakes, Fl): How do you see the Pavlik/Hopkins fight playing out and do you think there's a chance that we actually see Hopkins get KO'd?
Vivek W. (ESB): I can remember touching on the possibility of seeing this fight almost 2 years ago and I was laughed at for even mentioning the thought. Now, here we stand on the brink of it happening and I'm totally elated. I remember when it was first announced people were saying that they think it's a dumb fight and they think it's meaningless, but the closer we get, I think people are starting to see through the smoke as it clears, and actually realize that what we have here is a test of two very dynamic wills. One man known for 'breaking' people, another known for never being broken. The only true certainty here is that whomever walks away with the "W", it won't come easy. If Pavlik comes into the ring with too much emphasis on getting the historical KO over Hopkins, he could land himself in trouble. Remember, Hopkins is entering the ring for the first time in his career with serious questions surrounding him as a fighter. He knows that he needs to erase the recent past and re-write the memories. Pavlik's power is what it is, but Hopkins is a great neutralizer who knows how to spoil a persons skill level. An interesting irony that few have pointed out in this fight is the fact that everyone is talking about the Pavlik KO potential, but no one has stopped to consider the fact that Hopkins has to realize that he won't out point KP, so he's gonna probably come with his guns blazing for a KO himself. I don't expect him to get one, but he will definitely make this a very rough fight, giving himself the chance to get Pavlik out of his mental game, commiting himself to more punishment than he probably needs to take. In the end, I don't think this one goes the distance because Hopkins needs a KO to win, and Pav wants the KO for history. With that type of emotion, there's no way it goes 12. I just don't see either of these guys getting KO'd, so it's hard to accurately predict what's gonna happen. I can't wait to see how it all pans out though!
Benjamin Seles (Delray Beach, Fl): Where does Antonio Tarver go from here after suffering a lopsided loss to Chad Dawson?
Vivek W. (ESB): For whatever it's worth, I think Tarver's a colorful figure in the sport, and his machismo, his persona, and his talent still rate him a position somewhere in the ranks. I will go out on a limb and say that I thought he clearly began to show his age, but that being said, there are still other fighters out there - older and younger - who he can keep up with. He won't rule the division as I see it, but if he still has the fight game in his heart and he wants to stay in the mix, I think he has earned the right to do so. The flipside of this argument is that he has nothing to left to prove. I think every fighter or athlete needs to judge their retirement question based on their defining moments. Are they ahead, or behind? We see Roy Jones still charging forward because his potential defining moments are still ahead, and can be realized with a solid victory over Calzaghe - despite his low points in defeat against Tarver and Johnson. Tarver's career defining moment is far behind him. Nothing he can do in the future will eclipse his victories over Roy Jones jr. Not a win over Dawson, not a win over Hopkins, nothing. So considering that he has more than enough papers stacked away, and he has nothing else to gain, why not walk away? No one else worth fighting will take him on. Win, lose, or draw, Calzaghe isn't. If Roy defeats Calzaghe, he may feel bold enough to avenge that loss, but who wants to see that at this stage? I just think Tarver's past has earned him a place in the future, but that future is probably better served as a promoter than as a boxer. That's just my opinion.
L.C. Harrington (Philly, PA): From a legacy standpoint, who has more to gain in the Pavlik/Hopkins fight in your mind?
Vivek W. (ESB): Hopkins wins this contest all day long! For Pavlik, it'll always be dismissed as him facing an aging fighter in the twilight of his career. For Hopkins, he could prove that in a fight where few gave him a chance, he was able to defeat the sports quickest rising star and prove his mettle against a man few thought he could ever hang with, let alone defeat. I think clearly Hopkins has much more to gain in this fight. Pavlik is young and will have many other fights to help shape his legacy. Whether he defeats Hopkins or not, he can always improve his legacy by fights in the future. For Hopkins, it's all or nothing. He knows despite some questions, his legacy has been cemented, yet this could be the proverbial 'cherry' on top. The biggest thing Pavlik could hope for is a KO victory over Hopkins, but even then, it's gonna be said that the age was a factor. So I think no matter how you dice this one up, it is what it is. Hopkins has the most to gain, easily.
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