Boxing


'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Mailbag Featuring Calzaghe, Jones, Dawson, Haye, and More!

Roy Jones Jr.This weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' mailbag segment takes a look into a few pretty interesting questions posed by some of the most avid fight fans on the planet. Coming only days after last Saturdays showdown, obviously making the cut in today's mailbag is both Joe Calzaghe and Roy Jones Jr. Aside from them, David Haye, Glen Johnson, and a few other highly notables. Kicking things off today, we start out in Boca Raton, Florida where a fight fan wanted to know the following:

Robert Johnson (Boca Raton, FL): Now that Floyd Mayweather has retired and Roy, Tyson, and the other true American icons are out of the game, who do you predict to become the next mega star as far as American boxers go?

Vivek W. (ESB): Well, there are two ways to answer this question. If you mean who the next American boxing iconic figure will be from an endorsements and 'larger-than-life' perspective, that's a question I'm not really prepared to answer. When you think of Floyd, Ali, Tyson, or Jones, all of those guys had the gift to gab and they had a very innate ability to go in the ring and back it up. Unfortunately there's a huge disconnect between those two components as it relates to this era of fighters. Few talk the talk with the ability to walk the walk. On the immediate horizon, I can only think of maybe four contenders who are potent enough to really shake things up, but neither has the personality to become the iconic figures that we saw in Tyson and the others previously mentioned. Those four contenders are Chad Dawson, Kelly Pavlik, Andre Berto and Paul Williams. Each of those guys could cause absolute havoc with anyone they step in the ring with, but the quality of their personality isn't as magnetic, or at least not yet. To answer your question specifically, I don't think that iconic fighter is quite on the horizon just yet - at least not mainstream - but relative to talent and ability to cause havoc in the ring, I think the fighters I just mentioned will definitely go down as this era's version of America's '4 Horsemen'.

Hector Rodriguez (Miami Lakes, FL): In a fantasy match at a catch weight, who do you think would win between Antonio Margarito and Joe Calzaghe?

Vivek W. (ESB): Wow!!!! I think this match would be absolute fire! Two guys that throw a gazillion punches a round, solid chins, and wicked stamina; Hell, there would be more punches thrown between these two in the first 6 rounds than the combined number of punches thrown involving all the fighters on the undercard. The most interesting prospect to me about such a fight would be the fact that the one thing that Margarito is solely dedicated to is the one thing that Calzaghe probably hasn't encountered. Sure, some of his past opponents have gone to the body, but with that level of commitment, I don't think he's ever faced someone like that. Considering Margarito's granite chin, I don't think Calzaghe would hurt him one bit either. Calzaghe is stellar, but if there were ever a blueprint to beat him, it's the one we see which defines Antonio Margarito. In Margarito, for Calzaghe this would be someone with enough stamina to match him, enough of a chin to withstand him, and enough will to walk right through those shots and bring the pain. I don't know who wins that one if the weights were close enough to actually make it happen, but if I could even find a video game with the two of them on it, the idea of them meeting would give me such a high I probably wouldn't sleep for three days out of sheer eagerness to see how that one could unfold. You definitely chose the right words when you said "fantasy match". For an avid fight fan this showdown would be the intimate equivalence of making love in an elevator! The thought alone is pure nirvana!

Peter Wells (Charlotte, NC): Many American boxing scribes are critical of Joe Calzaghe's style. What was your take on his style against Roy Jones Jr.?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think his style is one that works across the pond but wouldn't always be considered a fan pleaser elsewhere, particularly here in the U.S. You have to remember, many of us Americans are stuck in what I would term a "microwave" mentality, meaning we want the biggest and the best of everything the quickest we can get it. Whether we're talking about super-sizing a fast food McDonalds order or watching someone get knocked out quicker than you could eat it. Across the pond, there's much more emphasis on the quality of things, which is why Lennox Lewis always referred to his style as the "Sweet Science". There's more of a fundamental practice to their craft as it relates to the fight game and although us Americans don't always appreciate it, Saturday was just one more indication that it does produce results. Joe did what he had to do and he did it with class. My opinion of him may not be any better than the very same American scribes you mentioned to be critical of him, but in the end analysis, I'd take an undefeated record over any personal endorsement any day if I was him. I'm sure Joe would agree!

Selwyn Daimes (Covina, CA): Do you think Calzaghe's victory and a potential Hatton victory puts more pressure on Haye to win and win decisively?

Vivek W. (ESB): I don't think it adds any more pressure to Haye than he has already put on himself by making a ton of statements about how he's gonna take the heavyweight ranks by storm and so forth. There's a good chance that Ricky Hatton comes out on top against Malignaggi, so now that Calzaghe has won, it's only natural for British fans to look at him to complete the trio. It probably isn't fair to narrow it down to that demographic only but I don't think the world as a whole has really taken to Haye just yet, as most feel he isn't tested and as a result, they want to see what he can do on the heavyweight level before forming any opinion of him. From that standpoint perhaps there is a mounting pressure but at the end of the day, Haye understands this and will probably go out and perform like many expect him to.

David S. (Norfolk, VA): Despite the victory and the record, I still don't think Calzaghe's a great boxer. What do you think separates him from the rest of the pack?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think you have three templates of fighters out there. You have those like Calzaghe who ONLY KNOW HOW TO WIN. You have those like Glen Johnson who've lost alot according to the books but were simply LEARNING HOW TO WIN, and finally, you have those like Roy Jones Jr. who are able to win naturally until their abilities decline and they eventually LEARN HOW TO LOSE. To explain those more thoroughly, three pertinent examples would be Calzaghe, who learned how to win, not by being the most physically gifted or most talented, but instead by learning and subsequently executing proper fundamentals. Then you have Glen Johnson who was at a crossroads in his career where he couldn't win much at all, yet it wasn't that he was necessarily losing, he was just learning the art of understanding how to win. Once he learned that art, it was nearly unconquerable, as even the young lion Chad Dawson had a tough time breaking that habit. Then you have Roy Jones Jr. who was so gifted that he never had to learn how to win, and as a result, when his skills declined, his non-necessity to learn how to win earlier in his career made it very easy for him to learn how to lose. Those three templates make up the entire fight world. The only thing that separates the undefeated from the greats who were defeated and those who only get defeated, is the art of knowing how to win and walking away before diminished skills teach the art of how to lose. Had Roy Jones Jr. walked away from boxing after he defeated John Ruiz for the heavyweight strap he would have gone down as arguably the most talented figure in the sport - possibly ever! He failure to walk away now leaves some with an unfortunate image. If Calzaghe sticks around longer, the same fate awaits, which is why Lennox walked when he did. Tyson on the other hand, just like Jones, was so brilliant early on that when he actually needed to win on something other than pure talent, he could no longer sustain. To those who don't understand my plight this may seem like a foreign language, but for those who get it, those words preach the 'gospel'. What separates Calzaghe from Roy and any of the others is not his undefeated record, it's the fact that he had to do it the hard way (meaning without all the athleticism and reflexes) and he'll probably walk away before things get tougher. That's all!

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

Article posted on 13.11.2008



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