'The Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Mailbag Featuring Oscar, Pacquiao, Tyson, Calzaghe, and Mayweather!
Following last weekends showdown between Manny Pacquaio and Oscar De La Hoya, needless to say that this weeks mailbag questions deal primarily with those two fighters. One question takes it a step further by addressing a familiar name that could very well end up in the line of fire now that the damage has been assessed. Aside from Pacquiao and Oscar, Calzaghe's legacy comes into question by one fight fan, and another took a look to see which up and coming fighter has the best chance to deliver as the king of PPV now that Oscar's best days are arguably gone. Kicking off the mailbag is a fight fan from Miami, Florida who wanted to know the following:
Article posted on 10.12.2008
Eric Turrel (Miami, Fl.): I think that Pacquiao's performance established him as the best in the sport. Do you agree with me that he would defeat Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
Vivek W. (ESB): I have to be careful answering here because I think it's a loaded question. When a fighter who's undefeated happens to lose, people immediately feel that he was exposed and once that rhetoric is spoken, it catches like a wildfire and people give themselves an unproven momentum to base their argument on. This phenomenon with Pacquiao's victory I find to parallel that energy. I can't take anything away from Pacquiao, he's one of my favorite fighters in the world to watch, his trainer is absolutely amazing and I love them both; That being said, I won't go on record and try to predict who actually wins, but I will say that there's no way in the world that any of us should confuse a worn down 35 year old fighter whose defense has been suspect throughout his career with potentially the most gifted fighter of this era, whose defense is by far the best of the sports current prime selection. Oscar De La Hoya presented little opposition in the whole entire fight. It wasn't a situation like you had with Hopkins and Pavlik where Hopkins just basically beat him from a tactical standpoint and took his weapons away from him. Oscar didn't have any weapons to take! With Oscar's reach, had the jab been present, that would have changed the whole fight. Oscar was possibly too zapped from the weight loss to use it. Floyd on the other hand would be far from. I think Floyd's speed, jab, and pure ability would have presented MAJOR issues for Pacquaio that Oscar simply couldn't establish. Marquez was probably the closest thing to a pure boxer Pacquiao has faced and he took Pacquiao to the brink twice, with one actually ending in a draw. Mayweather is heads and shoulders above Marquez and even though Pacquaio has improved, at it's best, comparing Marquez to Mayweather is the equivalence of facing a #3 seed versus a #1 seed in a tournament. One is very solid, but the other is a total package. I think it would be a great fight but anyone that thinks it would be as one-sided as we saw with Oscar is clearly lacking some very necessary knowledge.
Martin S. (Boca Raton, Fl): If you could spend a full day around one fighter of all time, who would it be and why?
Vivek W. (ESB): There are so many fighters that intrigue me, from Muhammad Ali, to Marciano, to Robinson, and so forth; but if I had to chose one fighter to sit down with and really get a chance to know, it would be Mike Tyson. When reading his history and understanding his story, I think he's easily the most misunderstood person on the planet. I don't say that to excuse his past indiscretions, but I truly believe that there's far more to him than people are willing to open up to and in my experience, he's far more intelligent than many give him credit for. He once stated that "people have no idea what they're doing when they give an 18, 19, 20 year old a couple million dollars and expect them to understand the principles and rules of society the way the common man applied them". For some that may be hogwash, but personally, I think it takes a certain type of individual to even comprehend that, and as true as it is, I've never heard anyone else speak on it as elaborately as he did at the time. I think there's much to learn from a person like Mike Tyson, and being in his presence at length would be an interesting experience.
Freddie Perry (Charlotte, NC): Do you think that Manny Pacquaio has surpassed Joe Calzaghe as far as a legacy goes?
Vivek W. (ESB): I don't think anyone can take anything away from either of these two men. Calzaghe has had a helluva last couple of years or so, defeating the durable Kessler, stripping the heart from Lacy, adapting well enough to defeat Hopkins and then destroying Roy Jones Jr. That's a great note to end the chorus on! The only thing I think that taints his accomplishments is the fact that the biggest names on his resume weren't in their prime, but to parallel that thought as it relates to this argument, neither was Oscar De la Hoya for Pacquiao. Barrera was a bit worn down, Morrales had started to age by the time they met (particularly after the first encounter), then you have Marquez who is closer to prime but also a bit shop worn and actually gave Pacman all he could handle and then some. If I had to draw a line in the sand somewhere, it could be the fact that Calzaghe has done it longer. The flipside to that is that Pacquiao has covered more territory, winning straps in 4 different divisions now. I throw all of these points out there because it just goes to show that there's an adequate debate on so many fronts and the view that wins is based solely on the audience that hears them. Both men have presented a strong case and technically, there's no reason to judge between the two because both have reached the ultimate pinnacle in the sport - which is the championship level. Beyond that, the whole legacy topic is similar to the pound-for-pound talk in the sense that it's all subjective and totally in the eyes of the beholder.
Marcus A. (Houston, Tx): What American boxing figure do you think is in position to become the next big PPV icon on the Oscar De La Hoya/Mike Tyson level?
Vivek W. (ESB): Honestly, I don't think that there is one on the current American landscape that I can see at this point who is destined for that level. Oscar had the looks and a formidable talent that allowed him to pull the feminine demographic and infuse it with the everyday boxing fan. 'Iron' Mike, on the other hand, was a beast in the ring whose explosiveness and sheer ability drew people to the sport like a magnet, and as his talent began to diminish, his antics picked up a totally different demographic because people wanted to see what he would do next. I bring up all of those varying points because it takes multiple dynamics - (whatever they are) - to build a fighter up to that global elite level and I just think that many of today's fighters are cut and dry with very few special effects. Some fighters out there have both the talent and the antics but as seen with Mayweather, that doesn't always get the recognition it should. Some say that the antics are over the top and don't help a fighters hype much but if that were true, I'd like to know how is it that a fighter like Paul Williams isn't given more recognition? If there was a guy that we should be building up he's the one. He comes to fight every night, he'll fight anyone, and he's not one of those tactical fighters that waits to pounce, he actually takes the fight to the opponent, so I'd think he would be the guy that most would support but it hasn't happened. The only fighter that I see who does have that certain 'appeal' who can make for exciting fights and be globally excepted on a widening stage is Kelly Pavlik; but even he won't reach that Tyson/Oscar level. One thing I will say in closing though, people have to realize that fighters in the magnitude of Oscar and Tyson are almost once in a lifetime, so consider yourself lucky to have been able to see both simultaneously because in our generation there may not be another American icon with that type of drawing power again. On an interational stage, I do think Pacquiao could evolve there as well though.
Richard S. (Long Island, Ny): You've been pretty critical of Oscar De La Hoya at points in the past. What do you think of him after his loss to Pacquaio?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think the whole evolution of Oscar is very intriguing and on a deeper note, I think there's a great lesson to be learned. I've always respected him greatly and admired him for many reasons, but I think he fell out of graces with me when he began to show more interest in making money than actually fighting competitively. He just didn't seem to have the same passion, and I'm a firm believer that when you lose the passion for something you once loved and reached a certain height from, in order to maintain it you have to stay in love with it. The day you start to lose that love and passion is the day your decline starts. With Oscar, that writing has been on the wall for while. I wasn't happy with his decision to take on Pacquaio when Margarito and Cotto were waiting in the wings but considering his performance last Saturday night, perhaps he knew what some of us suspected all along. As I watched him leave the ring badly beaten and profoundly humbled, the only thing running across my mind was "wow, this dude has a beautiful wife and kids, tons of accolades and all the money in the world, but the one thing he wants the most is the one thing his money can't buy". That's a tough pill to swallow but I think the lesson in Oscar's evolution for all of us to see is that there are times in life where our pursuit for more than we actually need can often leave us with less than we actually had to give. My point...the only victory we as humans really need to win is the one with our ego. When we win that battle, we establish the power and strength to simply walk away. When we lose that battle, we lose that power and strength, giving us the need to be carried off. That empty feeling we saw on Oscar's face showed me that he lacked the control to walk away when he was in power, so he was stripped of that power and forced to be carried off. Not exactly the way a champ wants to be remembered....Make any sense?
(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org and 954-292-7346, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
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