Boxing


The 'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Mailbag Featuring Roy Jones Jr. and Joe Calzaghe

In this weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' segment we preview the pending Jones/Calzaghe showdown by putting an ear to the streets. Many of the questions that came to me from avid fight fans about this fight showed me exactly how anticipated this fight really is. When you listen to the critics it's easy to believe that many out there aren't interested due to the fact that both men are arguably beyond their prime, but the hardcore aficionado's out there made it very clear that there's no such thing as a bad time for a good fight. It was hard to shy away from an actual prediction after reviewing some of the questions posed, but never-the-less the job is done and that prediction is forth coming....As for today, we analyze all the other hot topics involved and continue to soak up all the festive mood which parallels a perfect calm before the storm. Our journey starts out in 'Strong Island' where a fight fan wanted to know the following........

Jerry M. (Long Island, NY): How much do you think Roy Jones' past defeats will play a role in his performance Saturday night?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think every fighter finds the effects of a humbling loss with very different results. Some may remember Ricky Hatton's first public address after his humiliating loss where he was very open about frequently crying "like a woman" on a daily basis. It was obvious that his first loss and the fashion it came in was something that played a very huge role mentally. In his next performance he did enough to win, but if you remember, he looked very unsure of himself and to date, still hasn't shown us the Hatton of old. The thing that separates a fighter like Jones from a fighter like Hatton is heart and ego. Not to say Hatton doesn't have heart, but few could argue he lacks the ego. Many fight fans get down on fighters like Floyd Mayweather jr. and Roy Jones jr. for their antics and braggadocio, but what few realize is the fact that it's that very ego that gives them the swagger it takes to rule as dominantly as they have. That heartless, "I'm gonna take you out and make it look easy approach". Mayweather did it in a way that was carried out more mentally, but Roy Jones was completely brutal in his assaults and that type of mentality is what they feed on in a situation like this. I think if Jones dwells on those unfortunate moments of the past and enters the ring timid, it could come back to haunt him. When it all boils down though, personally, I think much like Bernard Hopkins in his recent victory against Kelly Pavlik, Jones will meditate on the fact that all he's ever worked so hard for is partly in question and this could be a final lifeline to cement a broken legacy. If he captures that vibe and rekindles that fire, prepare to see nothing less than the same Roy Jones Jr. that tactically dismantled heavyweight champion John Ruiz a few years ago. It won't look as easy because Calzaghe is world class, but the level of intrigue will certainly step it up a few notches. If he can recapture that confidence I don't think those losses come into play at all.

Rob Erickson (Chicago, IL): Who do you give the edge in this upcoming showdown between Jones and Calzaghe?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think a lot of things will play into this fight relative to the 'edge' scenario. Calzaghe has openly stated on numerous occasions that he's more concerned with Roy's speed and skill level than ANY opponent of the past. If Roy comes in with a solid plan and nullifies Calzaghe's strengths early, it could be interesting to see how it all unfolds from that angle. If Calzaghe comes in and smothers Jones early and subtracts his comfort zone from the beginning, that could give us an interesting angle to explore. When it all boils down, I think both of these men are world class talents, so it'll be a complete chess match from the start, and any edge that one enters the ring with may be nullified eventually because both men have the innate ability - based on years of experience - to either make adjustments or utilize pure skill to overcome. I think this fight is pretty evenly matched and I don't give either man an edge up front, but I do firmly believe that by the 3rd round one of the two men will have figured the other out well enough to get into a groove and layout a solid blueprint. Personally, it's pretty tough to say who that man (to find their groove first ) will be, and I'm not ready to make that prediction. Bottom line, it's no indication that either man has a true edge going in.

Terrel J. (Miami Lakes, FL): How much do you think fighting in America will work against Calzaghe?

Vivek W. (ESB): Calzaghe fought Bernard Hopkins last April in Las Vegas and we all know that in the end, despite the early knockdown, he did enough to gain a points win. I don't think the location plays a direct role in the fight personally. The only way I think location comes into play is if Roy Jones Jr. goes on one of his typical bravado skits where he starts connecting so precisely that he gets excited and starts to clown Calzaghe. In a situation like that, although I don't see it happening, I think location becomes very key. Calzaghe has been too stellar to be a recipient of that type of tricknology at any point in the past, but having it done to him in front of a crowd that isn't his own could force him to start pressing too hard - anxious to turn the tide because of personal pride. When you're in another mans land and you're in the heat of the battle knowing your "O" could go or something more drastic could happen, that's more than enough anxiety to force someone to compromise his better execution. I think Calzaghe is too poised and too prepared to let a somewhat partisan crowd affect him, but it's hard to be cool in the heat of a battle on foreign soil. Should it affect a vet like Calzaghe, no, but will it, we won't know unless and until Jones gives him a reason to let it.

Ric Milano (Covina, CA): Which attribute of each fighter do you think will cause the other the most problems and why?

Vivek W. (ESB): This is a pretty tricky question because both fighters have a million attributes to contend with, and neither has ever really faced a man with that type of wealth within his arsenal. One major thing that I think should be clarified about the two fighters (because I think it's highly misinterpreted) is the speed factor. People like to say that Calzaghe is as fast as Jones is and he may be, but Jones - even at his older age - is still the QUICKEST fighter I can think of in the game. Speed deals more with flurries and combinations which we all know Calzaghe can due in heavy abundance, but quickness is the ability to land on an opponent before he can react. As witnessed in the Trinidad fight, Jones still has that uncanny ability to do this like few others ever have. Most can remember one of several opponents where Jones held his left hand up, his right hand by the side, eyes facing down or at the waist of an opponent and completely nailed him to the kisser (or where ever else desired) with a shot the opponent never knew was coming. The attribute of quickness is far more dangerous in my observation than general speed because anyone who's been around the fight game long enough knows the punch that hurts the most is the one you never saw coming. The legendary Oscar De la Hoya made that very same statement prior to his fight with Mayweather. If Jones can keep the fight in the middle of the ring and use his quickness to outpoint Calzaghe, and subsequently stay off of the ropes and keep enough distance to nullify the Calzaghe flurries here and there, all of a sudden you have one fighters attributes working far more effectively than the others. Bottom line, attributes for both men are great, but they only get the fighter a victory when you have a plan that will allow you to execute them. Who ever executes better will have the more effective attributes.

Mario Sinclair (Pembroke Pines, FL): Do you think this fight happening now rather than a decade ago will result in a less of a fight?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think this question is a spoiled fans debate. I say that in the sense that in a perfect world we would have loved to see it happen then, but it's not always the timeline that defines the greatness of the matchup, it's the players involved. If one fighter was still considered to be in his prime I would say that it's unfair to an extent, but in this case both men are neighboring the '40' block. Calzaghe is younger, but think Michael Jordan. Once a master, always a master. He took it to the younger lions night in and night out; He just learned that instead of out jumping them, he had to out think them. I think both men are equally capable of scoring a victory today as they were yesteryear. As previously stated, there are things both men can do to exploit one another, it just depends on who actually does it. I've had a recurring theme in this fight buildup, and it all leads back to execution. Old or young, home or foreign soil, the man that executes better and more composed will win. And by the way, it would have been the same thing a decade ago when you think about it. Right?

(Day 3 is now in the books. Tomorrow, with only a few days left, we shift our focus to the not-so-great moments of the past in the career of the two fighters in an effort to see how they overcame the odds in: Jones/Calzaghe: Great Ring Moments of Adversity)

The Remaining Countdown to Jones/Calzaghe schedule is as follows:

Thursday: Calzaghe/Jones: Great Ring Moments of Adversity: (A look at ring moments of adversity in the careers of the two legends)
Friday: 'Call Em Out Fridays': Jones/Calzaghe - Two Countries, Two Men, One Legacy Standing In The End
Saturday: Calzaghe/Jones: Fight Strategy, Predictions
Sunday: Calzaghe/Jones: The Aftermath (Fight recap, and a look at where the two men go from here?)

(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexemail@yahoo.com and 954-292-7346, or show him some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)

Article posted on 05.11.2008



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