'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag Featuring Pacquiao, Mayweather, Arreola, Margarito, and More..
31.12.08 - The 2008 final installment of the 'Left-Hook Lounge' couldn't come on a more fitting day as the questions presented this week will surely set the fireworks blazin'! I figured with today being my 33rd birthday a few of the fight fans out there would cut me some slack but it appears that heavy artillery in this weeks mailbag is being lobbed in one direction and I'm afraid I'm the unlucky recipient! (Smiles). At any rate, like the brave fighters we're here to discuss, I don't back down, I stand up! So with no further ado, we jump into our first question from a fellow fight fan in Indianapolis who wanted to know the following:
Article posted on 30.12.2008
Calvin Straughter (Indianapolis, IN): When Floyd Mayweather jr. was the welterweight champion there was tons of pressure from the media and fans for him to unify the titles and face the best in his division, yet there was no pressure for Manny as a lightweight, or any of the welterweight champions to unify. Would you argue with the notion that this could be a matter of race?
Vivek W. (ESB): Personally, I can't say that this was an act of racism, and neither will I try. I think certain antics of Floyd Mayweather jr. rub people the wrong way but that doesn't change the fact that you bring up a very legitimate issue that few openly take note of. Many around the sport - myself included - put alot of pressure on Mayweather to face Cotto, Margarito, and Williams, yet when he went after Oscar and Hatton, most made him the proverbial 'whipping boy'. In an effort to recognize your point, I can honestly say that I don't recall any heat from the same media with Manny Pacquaio as you stated, (before the ODH fight) for taking the path of least resistance in facing David Diaz rather than Nate Campbell, considering that Campbell actually holds three of the belts in that division. I know someone out there isn't gonna be too fund of that comment but before you criticize me, I'd just like to ask you kindly, don't speak of what I said, think of what I said. There was total truth and transparency to that statemtent. There was no media push to get Pacquiao in the ring with Campbell, a unified champ in the divison. It sort of makes you wonder what's really going on inside the sport, as well as with those watching around the sport. Same with Margarito and some of the welterweights mentioned in your question. Many have said that Margarito has paid his dues and deserves to go after the big paydays, but once again, I'd have to reflect to Mayweather and Oscar who used that same excuse and in that scenario it didn't work for either man. I stay far away from the race card because I have total respect for fight fans around the globe but the media certainly has dropped the ball in this regard because both the Pacquiao and current welterweight champions have all side-stepped this agenda. Joshua Clottey is clearly willing to take any fight that will help unify the division, but few have been as open to facing him. I think this double standard will continue, and not only in those divisions, but across the board. It's sad, but that's the nature of the business and I don't see the fans or media changing any time soon so bring a hard hat and pack a lunch....it's gonna be a long day for any blue-collar fan in what has become a white-collar sport. And that whole blue-collar/white-collar example is the only color discrepancy that I'll go on record to discuss!
Marco Cepeda (Miami Lakes, FL): I read your work regularly and notice that you continue to support Mayweather. I think he's bad for the sport and I'm curious to know your logic behind supporting such a riot?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think behind the ignorant remarks and stale persona, there's a certain level of genius in Mayweather. Think about it this way...When you think thugs and low-life's, you think of guys with a million tattoo's, a million piercings, wicked ghetto-isms and the whole 9 yards, right? Ok, of all the things we mentioned there, Floyd has zero of them except the bad-boy persona that somehow only comes out when it's time to promote a fight. And by the way, before someone out there thinks I've stereotyped them, I'll be the first to let you know I have both tattoos and piercings so don't feel alone - (Smiles). But anyhow, my point is that for those who have seen Floyd away from the ring with his kids, or away from the fight promotional trail, you can attest like I can that the guy you see promoting fights is not quite the same. Similar to his promotional antics, his ring smarts I find just as lethal. This dude bumps his gums til the break of dawn, pisses off his opponents and their fans along with a million other people, gets them all to buy his fights just to tune in to see him get his arse thumped, and before you know it, he soundly executes a well thought out gameplan with heavy emphasis in the area of capitalizing on an angry opponents mistakes. I don't know guys, I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but in a world full of wolves-in-sheeps-clothing, Floyd has found a way to sell himself as a sheep-in-wolves-clothing! No tattoo's, no piercings, and a flashy white smile...As a former corporate America mainstay, that sounds a lot like a guy I'd be asking "could you start for me Monday morning"? Forget callin' this dude 'Prettyboy'! Lets just call him 'The Copy-Machine', cause all he's doing is following the lead of others before him and producing papers just like they did! We may not find him too intelligent but it worked and he's living better than we are, so whose really the questionable source here?
Alan R. (Bronx, NY): Chris Arreola is now tentatively slated to face Wladimir Klitschko. What do you think he has to do to win and how do you rate his chances?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think for starters, Arreola has to train like he's never trained before. Lots of roadwork, lots of sparring, lots of discipline. As far as how I rate his chances, it's really hard to say. Not only because we don't know how he's gonna look when he shows up, but we don't know which Wladimir is gonna show up either. I've seen Wladimir look amazing, and I've seen him look absolutely horrible, entering the ring timid in a safety first style could self destruct against a fighter who knows how to get close enough to dismantle it. If Wladimir shows up tentative and passive, I think Arreola's power will give him a problem he can't answer. If Wladimir shows up aggressive, I think he can hurt Arreola. The X-factor here is that I fully expect Arreola's fight plan to be one that requires him to stay super close, closing the range between he and Wladimir while subsequently taking away Wladimir's ability to load up and land big shots. The short distance between he and Wladimir would nullify Wladimir's strong suit while strengthening Arreola's, which is to be close enough to land those hooks and bombs. If Arreola can do that when they meet I think clearly he has a great shot, and wouldn't be surprised to see him land a KO victory. If Arreola fails to cut the distance between the two he'll be at the end of a long jab and some rough powershots which would spell trouble. I think the safe money is on Wladimir but I think an upset is closer to reality than most think, particularly after Arreola's last showing where he found himself stung and on the deck. I think in that fight we saw an unmotivated Arreola. I personally want to see the motivated one.
Jerris DeMonteo (San Diego, CA): You chose Joe Calzaghe as the Fighter of the Year and most found that totally ridiculous. I just want to know why defend him now when you spoke so much against him in the past?
Vivek W. (ESB): I'll be the first to say that I think Calzaghe has many questions surrounding his legacy. Some would argue - with reasonable success - that he didn't fight any true prime opposition until he fought Lacy and Kessler. My argument to them is that we're looking at Fighter of the Year, not the resume of the two fighters careers. That angle doesn't bode well for a guy who's undefeated and potentially on his way out of the sport, but that being said, I think you have to put things in a proper perspective. There's no way at all to take away from Pacquaio's accomplishment but let me point a few things out. For starters, Freddie Roach (former trainer of Oscar) stated prior to the fight that the ONLY reason he agreed to put Pacquiao in the ring with De la Hoya was because Oscar was "shot" and could no longer "pull the trigger". Secondly, prior to the fight, Oscar De la Hoya had lost 3 of his last 6, with one of those victories viewed as a gift decision (Sturm), so despite the weight advantage he shared, few openly admit that was the only advantage he held aside from his height. Manny's performance was phenomenal but when you look at the truth behind Oscar, I think you can throw him in that washed up legend category as well as people did with Jones for Calzaghe. If the situation were reversed this would be a non-issue. Consider this....If Pacquiao had never fought away from home in his career and went on to defeat both Morales and Barrera in the country of Mexico, while Calzaghe got a controversial decision over a good middleweight, beat a weak light heavyweight, and then defeated an old but decent heavyweight, there's no way Pacquiao wouldn't get the nod. I think the fact that Pacquaio has a better style and is more respected is why he got the benefit of a close nod. So I just think people have to see things for what it is. Pacquiao is my favorite fighter to watch, but a Co-Fighter of the Year split is the most points I could render on this subject. The accomplishments this year between the two just seem to parallel in every way accept the fact that one man did it in his opponents backyard while the other did it at home.
Shawn J. (Orlando, FL): Rumors are circulating about Antonio Margarito having weight problems in his fight camp. How do you see that affecting his performance if this is true?
Vivek W. (ESB): I haven't gotten any confirmation on any potential weight problems for Antonio Margarito but if the proverbial 'silk pajamas' issue has hit him, one thing for sure, that could KO him in the fight, even if Shane can't. So often in this sport we see fighters who go nearly a full career without getting recognition and then all of a sudden they get the big payday, win, and forget what it took to get there and as a result, never taste a victory that sweet again. I think Margarito is a hungry fighter, but for his sake, I just hope that hunger entails him gobbling up more victories than taco's. I remember he and his wife talking about how they had waited so long to get this recognition and how much they were looking forward to enjoying the fruits of their labor. Well, the harvest is plentiful, and I would think that in itself will keep him focused and not allow such a great champion to go bad so fast. Only time will tell.
(I would like to take this moment to wish everyone - fight fans and fighters - a Happy and safe New Year. It's been a long journey, but in a few hours a new one starts so strap up and KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE!)
(Got questions or feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org and 954-292-7346, follow his work at 8countnews.com and examiner.com, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved).
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