Boxing


'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's weekly mailbag featuring Berto, Pacquiao/Hatton, Mosley/Margarito, and more!

berto Photo: Sumio Yamada - This weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' puts a lot of key figures in the sport at center stage. On the tab for deep discussion this week is everything from the evolution of Andre Berto, to the ongoing money battle between Pacquiao and Hatton, to the effects of Nasim Richardson in the corner of Shane Mosley. If that isn't enough, we also take a glimpse into the Angulo/Mayorga showdown, followed by a rare moment where I break away from the sport and address a question from a long time reader who chose to use this platform to open dialogue on a more broad topic. With no further ado, we kick things off with a fight fan from Lauderdale Lakes, Florida who wanted to know the following:

Chris E. (Lauderdale Lakes, FL): I find Andre Berto very green, but still with a huge upside. What training emphasis do you think it will take for him to develop into an elite welterweight fighter?

V.W. (ESB): I think the main thing that Berto needs is something that no one in his fight camp can give him, but rather something that it'll take about 3 or 4 strangers to deliver. That something is experience, which he can only get by staying active in the ring. People are often so critical of him without giving thought to the fact that he's only been in the ring professionally for 4 years, and actually, that 4 year mark just hit a little over a month ago. In my 'Call Em Out Fridays' article last week I pointed out the fact that he had only fought 99 rounds in his entire career prior to the Collazo fight, and of those 99 rounds, the stiffest leg of his competition came within his last 4 fights or so. He's only been beyond nine rounds 4 times, fellas. He's as raw as a fighter can get, but he's young and hungry, so that isn't a bad thing. As long as he stays hungry and keeps the will to succeed, I have no doubt that he'll find success. The fact that he won the title so early in his career is perhaps the catch 22 because it immediately put him in a situation where he can no longer take the normal maturation evolution a fighter needs to gain the experience required to be champ. I know for a fact that he has the tools to be dominate one day so I don't question whether or not he'll succeed, I just question how many losses will he suffer before he gets to the level that many know he can reach.

Barry Cinter (Tyler, TX): How would you resolve the ongoing money issue between the Pacquiao and Hatton camps?

V.W. (ESB): I think the most logical way to kill the drama between Pacquiao and Hatton is to settle it the old school way. Stipulate a 10% marginal split (55/45), with the winner taking the lion's share of the split. I think all of these mega-fights should be governed this way because it would eliminate the Oscar De la Hoya's of the world who continue to take mega fights because they know win, lose, or draw, they'll command the biggest purse. I think if two fighters know up front that the winner would walk away with the bigger slice of the pie, they'd come in a tad bit hungrier, (no pun intended). This fight is a bit misleading because Pacquiao is perhaps the bigger global star, but Hatton represents a market that will bring in a huge 'paper trail' and it's a demographic that he totally controls. So considering that both men bring something to the table that the other can't, I think letting the winner take the larger split is easily the best way to draw a bona fide conclusion. Both men have great pride and both men view themselves as 'the man', so if you're that sure of your game, why not let it speak for you! Right?

Geoff M. (Los Angeles, CA): How much do you think the presence of Nasim Richardson will have to do with the outcome of the Mosley/Margarito fight?

V.W. (ESB): As great as Nasim Richardson is, I don't think there's a whole lot that you can do to enhance a training camp for a fighter like Mosley who's been-there-and-done-that. Personally, I think that Richardson won't be a factor at all from a training standpoint, but could very well be the deciding factor on fight night, helping Mosley strategize between rounds against a fighter who only goes in one mode - straight ahead. Mosley is brilliant in the ring, and the only guys to beat him have been the ones who had either great physical advantages or better than average boxing skills, or both. Styles make fights, and despite the fact that Margarito defeated Cotto who defeated Mosley, I think two things could give Mosley the potential edge here. If you think about it, Cotto led throughout most of the fight against Margarito and he did it by picking him apart shot by shot. As he outboxed Margarito, he did it using footwork, but when he began to wear down he couldn't sustain the energy to land those shots or maintain that footwork, so the tides began to turn. The difference with Mosley will be the fact that unlike Cotto, he will land his shots in groups, (rapid combinations - which Cotto did not do), which will leave a more favorable impression in the minds of the judges, potentially giving him the nod in close rounds. Secondly, I don't think he'll try to fight going backwards as much as Cotto did. No matter how busy a fighter is, if you stay in front of him and hold your ground, as Bernard Hopkins so accurately pointed out before facing Pavlik, "every time a man throws a punch there's an opening for him to receive one, or more". If Mosley stands in the pocket like we know he can, and throws ripping combinations while Margarito is throwing those wide but heavy powershots, Mosley wins every exchange based on more shots landed. I expect Mosley to come into the ring and put a major emphasis on holding his ground and doing damage while he does it. If he doesn't wear down, despite the size advantage, in the end Margarito may come up short like a midget.

Jerry S. (Seattle, WA): Who do you see winning the Angulo/Mayorga showdown?

V.W. (ESB): I think much like we saw with Berto, Angulo is entering the ring with a man who's forgotten more tricks than he's probably learned in his short time in the sport. Last week I spoke of Berto only being beyond the championship rounds (9-12) a hand full of times. Well, Angulo has only been beyond the 6th round once in his entire career. (Yeah, once)! So I have a real tough time believing that this is a good fight for him. No, Mayorga is no masterful pugilist, but to his credit, the guy just went a full 12 rounds with Mosley and had it not been for some last second heroics (literally) by Mosley, he may have even gotten the nod on one of the scorecards. Mayorga is one of those dangerous fighters who comes to the ring with a ton of experience and enough power to make a less experienced opponent rethink his strategy fast. If Angulo does lose, I don't think it'll be anything that necessarily hurts his career. I think it'll be chalked up as a lesson learned....for him and his promoters matchmaker.

Andre Watson (Miami Gardens, FL): I have followed your work well before you began doing strictly sports, and I'm curious to know what are your thoughts on the huge moment in America resulting from the election of the first African-American President?

V.W. (ESB): Personally, I don't like to mix the two topics (sports and politics) because I think there are too many politics in sports and not enough of the good comraderie you often find in sports offered in politics. That being said, I think Americans need to think less about the color of the man leading the country, and more about the benefits we appear to be on the brink of getting as a result. America is in position to seize a rare moment of absolute unity and run with it, creating a nice wave for generations to come. After the terrible 911 attacks we saw a solidarity that we haven't always had, and in an odd way, the election of Barack Obama has seemed to rekindle that same spirit amongst the citizens. I think it's great to honor one's heritage and be thankful for this great moment of progress in American history but at the end of the day, we all bleed red. When I see a boxer take an uppercut and blue blood comes from his nose, or see a football player get tackled and green blood pours from his elbow, then we can talk about each other being different. Until then, I put more emphasis on where we are than where we've been because it ain't where you're from it's where you're at. We now all have a great reason to bury the past and plan a better future, together. The example I like to use is the fact that a rainbow wouldn't be nearly as beautiful or significant if it were only comprised of one or two colors. It's the binding of them all that makes it the spectacle we honor. Life is the same in the sense that our unity paints a much better picture than we could ever illustrate individually. Make sense?

(Got questions or feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexemail@yahoo.com and 954-292-7346, follow more of his work at 8CountNews and The Examiner, or show some love at Myspace).

Article posted on 19.01.2009



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