The 'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Mailbag Featuring Haye, Oscar, Jones, Lewis, Taylor, and More!
In this week's 'Left-Hook Lounge' mailbag we take a look at some very key questions from avid fight fans as they relate to some of the hottest names in the sport. Everything from Haye's impact on the heavyweight division, to Oscar's chances of defeating Pacquiao, and everything in between all come full circle as we put an ear to the streets and find out what fight fans really want to know. With no further ado, we start out in New York City, where a fight fan wanted to know the following about the U.K.'s latest fighter to take the fight world by storm:
Article posted on 19.11.2008
Ched Krusniak (NYC): What were your thoughts of David Haye's first heavyweight fight against Monte Barrett, and do you think he'll make an impact in the division?
Vivek W. (ESB): I thought David Haye did enough to win, but personally, I don't think he did enough to really prove that he's gonna be formidable at the heavyweight level. The guy he fought (Monte Barrett) isn't a cupcake, in the sense that we've seen him look somewhat game in the past, but he simply didn't test Haye enough to give Haye or anyone else a true reason to believe that he's ready for the top tier level of the division. I think the aspect of his performance that he graded best on - ironically - was his defense. Yeah, he got five knock downs, but if you have to knock a guy down five times to get him to stay there, I'm not so sure that's an accomplishment that sticks in my book. Defensively he was able to slip a few jabs and setup his offense, but as great as that sounds, I think ultimately it could work against him. Prior to the fight, Haye said something I find pretty telling. He was quoted as saying that he "plans to go in the ring and just blitz them (heavyweight opponents) because he can't afford to have them land those big shots". That last segment about him not being able to "afford having them land those big shots" is what sticks out most in my mind. He was able to slip those shots against an opponent who doesn't put them together consistently with any true precision. My question is, what happens when he's in there against someone who can? Anyone who saw the fight can attest that we still haven't seen him take any TRUE flush shots at the heavyweight level. As far as I'm concerned, Haye now has a "W" as a heavyweight, but he's no more accomplished as a heavy than he was before the fight, and that's unfortunate, because personally, I think he could be exactly what the sport needs in that division. The jury is still out, but I think with another fight or two they could end deliberations....not a moment before though!
Sheldon T. (Miami Lakes, FL): In the recent HBO 24/7 series, it appeared that Oscar De la Hoya is getting ready to do some major damage against Pacquiaio. Do you think he can pull it off?
Vivek W. (ESB): Personally, my opinion about Oscar and his lead up to this fight would probably not a great one to go by if you're an Oscar fan. I love the guy as a major player in the sport, and he will forever be legendary in my mind, but truthfully, I think Oscar-the-promoter is a total contradiction to Oscar-the-fighter and for those close enough to the fight game, it's become a total mockery of the sport. I was analyzing a few notes leading up to Oscar's fight with Mayweather where he stated that he's "in the best shape of his career" and his trainer's brilliant so nothing will stop him. Prior to the fight with Forbes he said the same thing. Dating all the way back to the fight against Hopkins it's been the same emphatic "this is the best camp I've ever had", and as he put it a few days ago, he "has that hunger in his belly again which he hasn't felt in many years". When I hear him repeat the same line time after time, it honestly makes me wanna just ask him out loud and flat out, "Did you lie to us all those times before, or did you really believe that we just weren't paying attention"? It's gotten old and personally, I wasn't a big fan of this fight to begin with. If Pacquiao comes out and does what I firmly believe he can do, I hope that Oscar-the-boxer goes away for good, because I fall in sync with that strong majority out there that can't stomach another reinvention of yesterdays hype. Nacho and Angelo Dundee are two of the greatest trainers ever, Mayweather was no slouch, and Roach was no hoax, but they all learned that no matter what they bring into the fold, they can do everything but fight the fight for Oscar. Roach recently spoke of how Oscar had a huge learning curve and took forever to pick up things he'd try to show him in their fight camps. I would never question Oscar's intelligence, but what I do know is that Freddie must be on to something about his comprehension level because one other thing Oscar hasn't seemed to comprehend is the fact that his better days are far behind him. Consider this....A victory would make him 1-6 (with an asterisk next to that one win) - against all future hall of famer's he faced while in their prime. (Mosley - 2, Mayweather - 1, Hopkins - 1, and Trinidad - 1). The asterisk would come from fight fans who question why he had to get a guy to come up nearly 20 pounds to get that lone victory. So even if he can pull it off (as you put it), he still won't pull it off, if you follow me.
Maurice Jackson (Atlanta, GA): I thought Jermain Taylor's victory over Jeff Lacy was fairly impressive. I'm curious to know what did you take away from his performance and who would you like to see him face next?
Vivek W. (ESB): I thought Taylor looked pretty good. There are still a few technical flaws that I think could affect him against a fundamentally sound boxer, or perhaps one powerful enough to cut off the ring and trap him - like we saw in Pavlik's blueprint to defeat him. Overall, I think Taylor stuck to his gameplan and even overcame a little deceptive adversity by that flash knockdown that wasn't ruled a knockdown for some reason. I think for Taylor, it's a matter of rebuilding his confidence and he'll need to build on a victory like that so that he can work his way back into contention. What lies ahead for him is a slew of interesting prospects. I'd like to see him face Kessler, and I find that a very tough fight to predict on the surface. I think Bute would be a good fight, and considering the two styles, if Marlon Wright isn't the third man in the ring again, I think Taylor walks away with a victory there. Froch would be a good opponent as well, and to be honest, if he really wants to test his mettle at the super middleweight level, Librado Andrade is a helluva 'feather' to have tucked in the cap on his way up the ranks. So, I think there are a lot of options, but as the saying goes, "paths are many, destination is one"! No matter which combination he uses, none will be particularly easy, but all will be fruitful - as it relates to his future in the sport.
Shawn Telesco (Miami, FL): Roy Jones Jr. has openly stated that "he's not done yet". If he's to move forward in his career, who would you like to see him face?
Vivek W: (ESB): Personally, I don't think Jones has anything left to do in the sport. Nothing he can accomplish will do anything more than what he did against Ruiz by coming up to the heavyweight ranks and getting the job done. That being said, Jones is no where near as bad as he looked against Calzaghe. Jones - like 45 other men - simply can't keep up with that workrate at this stage in his career. A possibility that does intrigue me is if David Haye goes on to take the strap from either Klitschko and puts his stamp on the division, I personally wouldn't mind seeing Jones square off against him at a heavyweight level. I think the two matchup well and that's the only place for Jones to go because the light heavyweight division and below are filled with bad matchups for him. The workrate of Calzaghe would never allow a decision between the two to go the other way. Johnson, Tarver, Dawson, and Taylor are all names I'd stay away from at this point because there's still much more to lose than there is to gain in those matchups. Hopkins isn't interested. I don't know what else there is for Roy out there but a 'wildcard' like him going back to the heavyweight ranks and facing Haye if Haye is successful against either of the Klitschko's. Sounds crazy in theory, but if I can toot my own horn for a second, I called the Pavlik/Hopkins showdown more than a year before it happened, I called the Jones/Calzaghe fight well before it was considered, and I also predicted an inevitable Mayweather/Pacquiao showdown that will UNDOUBTEDLY take place if Pacquiao beats Oscar. This Roy/Haye showdown is cut from that same intuitive fabric and I really think if Roy can show to most what I already know - which is that he can still hang with nearly anyone NOT THROWING 100 PUNCHES A ROUND - I think that fight can be made with a relatively strong support base. Even if it does take place overseas.
Larry S. (Brooklyn, NY): Emanuel Steward recently stated that he thinks "Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko have some unsettled business". Do you think it would be wise for Lewis to consider entertaining that fight again?
Vivek W. (ESB): NO! Bold caps, highlights, whatever we need to make the point clear, but NO, I don't think Lennox should even remotely consider that fight. I will say this though, if we saw Vitali come back and pick right up after 4 years off, Lewis is capable as well, but what would it prove? There's nothing Lewis can do to make an already great career better. He's a hall-of-fame lock, he's gotten his notoriety, he has enough money to last 3 life times, so what else is there for him in this fight? If anything, Steward knows this would be a huge payday for him as a trainer, so it makes total sense that he would make that statement. Aside from Steward getting that payday, I don't think anyone wins in this equation. If Lewis wins, they're gonna say "he's the best, we knew that, blah, blah, blah"! If Vitali wins, it'll be "Lewis was older and out of shape, blah, blah, rah, rah"! I don't' think Lewis has anything left to prove. The fight we would get now is not the same fight we would have gotten back then. This is two different men now, in two different stages of life. Let it stay that way. Nuff said!
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