Boxing


'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's weekly mailbag featuring Pacquiao, Holyfield, Mayweather, and more!

manny pacquiaoThis weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' takes a look at a few highly intriguing questions and scenario's directly from the minds of some of the sports most avid fans. Weeks after the strong performance by Manny Pacquiao, one fight fan still decided to ponder his true worth as it relates to his perceived greatness. Other topics touched upon were the Holyfield/Valuev debacle which many question (for good reason), as well as the potential late '09 showdown between Mayweather and Pacquiao. With no more preliminaries necessary, we jump into the mix, starting with our first question which comes from a fight fan in Richmond, Virginia who wanted to know the following:

Doug Peterson, (Richmond, Va): Manny Pacquiao has already accomplished a ton in the sport but many don't seem to rate him in their all-time great category. How do you see his true worth from a greatness standpoint in the sport?

Vivek W. (ESB): I pride myself as a boxing scribe who likes to see not only my view, but the one that doesn't parallel mine as well. That being said, for starters, I don't think there's any way to discount the resume of Manny Pacquiao.. Morales, Barrera, Marquez, and down the line, Pacquiao has always done all you could ask of a fighter....which is to beat the man in front of him. The flipside of this coin, however, is that he didn't really begin to catch fire in the all-time greatness stratosphere until this year. Prior to this year some mentioned it but it was more of his staunch supporters than the mainstream media who now covet him as a perennial pound-for-pound figure. I've never been a fan of making quick decisions about boxers because if I did, I'd believe that Pavlik was permanently exposed or that Hopkins was washed up by now. Similarly, when you look at Pacquiao's resume for this year, you have to take it for what it was, not what we want it to be. He got a HIGHLY controversial split decision against Marquez. Their first fight was a draw but I think he did better in that fight than the second one where I continue to feel Marquez did enough to get that decision. Then he beat the slow-as-molasses David Diaz - which despite the jump in weight - was not much of a challenge. After that, he defeated what amounted to a very shop-worn Oscar De La Hoya. Granted, few thought he would beat the bigger man, but if you really wanna gauge whether or not that was the 'real' Oscar, ask yourself how was Pac-man able to accomplish something that Trinidad, Vargas, Mosley, Quartey, and many others failed to do? - which was stop Oscar. No one in the world can take away the greatness of Pacquiao that night, but make no mistake, a heavier, fresher Oscar would have taken those punches and landed a ton more. Bottomline, I say surely, Pacquaio is an all-time great, but how high he scales up the chart is totally in the eye of the beholder. If I'm looking for a fighter who handled tough opposition in their prime, I'm not rating him so highly considering that all of his named opponents were well worn down. Which is why the Ali's, the Leonards, and many of the old school guys get the nod in that sense because they always fought the best for the most part. If i'm rating him based on excitement and things along that line, he's the proverbial 'cream' that rises somewhere to the top. Either way, he's a helluva fighter and no one can take away what he brings and will continue to bring to the sport.

J. Merritt (Phoenix, Az): Is there any truth to the rumors of Floyd being required to face Pacquiao at a catch weight if the fight happens?

Vivek W. (ESB): For starters, Floyd hasn't officially agreed to face him, and neither has Pacquiao and Top Rank officially agreed to take the fight. Secondly, come hell to high water, if and when the fight is agreed to, a semi-retired Mayweather WILL NOT take the risk of accepting a fight at a lower weight against a fighter who has proven himself at 147. Some may say Pacquiao hasn't proven himself there but he faced a much more formidable opponent than Hatton did in his first fight there (Collazo) and he looked damn good doing it when you compare the two performances. Mayweather will not agree under any circumstances to a lower catchweight, or anything else below 147. I hate to pull the trump card here, but just like we've seen Oscar call the shots in the past, you can expect Mayweather to land that role here. Pacquiao needs Mayweather more than Mayweather needs Pacquiao. Mayweather has tons of mega fights to opt from...Be it Cotto, Margarito, or whomever. Pacquiao will not get this type of money ANYWHERE ELSE, not even with Hatton. So he may win at the negotiation table in other areas, but he'll lose the 'battle-of-the-bulge'. 147 or no fight! You can bank that one now!

Erik Martin (Boca Raton, Fl): If you had to choose one fighter in todays crop who represents the sport the way you would want it represented, who would that fighter be?

Vivek W. (ESB): Without a doubt Paul Williams! There are fighters like Margarito who like to be viewed as the "most feared man on the planet" and others like Pavlik who can put a pounding on nearly anyone you place in front of them, but when you view those guys and all like them, they seem to have a ceiling that caps their abilities. Perhaps Williams does as well but his is much higher. The guy will fight ANYONE, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME! Literally. I think he represents what the sport is all about. No one can ever accuse him, his camp, or promoters of protecting him and doing anything to subtract from his appeal. What's even more likable about him is the fact that he doesn't have to get ignorant and loud to boast his talents. He keeps his words minimal and his actions optimal. I remember once commenting to a fellow scribe that it was amazing in todays athletic circles with all the huge ego's we have to see a boxer (of all athletes) refer to the people interviewing him by saying "yes sir", "yes mam". I think this dude is a class act who understands how to turn on the "Jekyll" as well as when to lose the "Hyde". Many in the sport should take note, in and out of the ring!

Roger M. (North Miami Beach, Fl.): How can the sport continue to let things happen like the outcome of the Holyfield/Valuev fight?

Vivek W. (ESB): I must say, this year - like many others - has been absolutely insane with some of the results of these fights. It's the type of thing that makes you hate the sport you love! Three fights immediately come to mind. In Canada, it was the Lucian Bute/Librado Adrade charade where where referee Marlon B. Wright was absolutely wrong! And it wasn't totally about how that fight ended, as much as it was about the things that happened throughout the course of the fight itself. Then in California you had the controversial, yet more conceivable (in comparison) James Toney/Fres Oquenda fight. But topping it all off was the Holyfield/Valuev fight where 9 out of every 10 people questioned felt it was an absolute aberration. Both the Canadian instance and the Switzerland scenario display exactly why alot of U.S. fighters don't wanna cross the pond. I'm sure somewhere out there there's a fan overseas who feels that way about the U.S. but I think America has been far more neutral in that aspect than anywhere on the planet. Perfect example was the Calzaghe/Hopkins fight. When have you EVER seen a champion lose a split decision in his own country. That would not have ended that way abroad. The old adage is that you have to 'win decisively' against a champ, and despite Calzaghe's adjustments and performance, there's still a huge contigent that felt Hopkins did enough to win. At the end of the day, I don't blame the fighters or necessarily the judges. I blame the governing bodies (the WBA, WBO, WBC, etc...) that don't overturn these garbage decisions and make a point. They're proving just as corrupt and like the decisions they uphold, at times, they all stink!

Carl C. (Covina, Ca): With so much talent in the sport, who do you predict will have the best year in '09?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think it's way too early to make this call because too many scenario's will unfold, while others will unfortunately fall apart. Among the many that could have a breakout year, you have Miguel Cotto, who now gets the chance to rebound and do some major damage in the sport. You have Paul Williams who can make an impact in one of three divisions, or clean the table and run them all! You have up-and-comers like Andre Berto, Juan Manuel Lopez, Gamboa, Kirkland, Arreola, and so forth; Then you have the usual suspects, Pacquiao, the Klitschko boys, or even a sudden impact of David Haye who could definitely be fighter of the year if he goes on to defeat both Klitschko brothers. So there's way too much to choose from and I wouldn't even make it seem as if I know which one of these guys will make the biggest splash. Just looking at the possibilities makes me wonder how can anyone suggest the sport is dying. Wishful thinking there Calzaghe! I don't know what his inspiration was for that statement but with or without him, the fight game will flourish. Ask 'Money' Mayweather who recently saw it thrive enough to get him off the couch and back in the gym to be part of the action. There are many men to choose from in this equation and I plan to watch them all.

(This week there will be no 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment....Instead there will be an awards showcase, reflecting on the 2008 year in boxing, featuring Fight of the Year candidates, Fighter of the Year candidates, and other accolades....MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!)

(Got questions or feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at 954-292-7346 and vivexemail@yahoo.com, read more at 8countnews.com and examiner.com, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved).

Article posted on 24.12.2008



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