'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag featuring Williams, Mayweather, Arreola, Hatton/Pacquiao, and more!
This weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' is probably the most intriguing of the year so far, as each question posed by various fight fans ponder some very interesting topics. Everything from the future of Williams and Wright to the potential Mayweather/Marquez showdown falls under the microscope. As if that wasn't enough, the Pacquiao-Hatton 24/7 HBO series has seemed to open a new can of worms, and despite his not so small frame, heavyweight Chris Arreola has also found a small crack to slide into the mailbag as well. With no time to spare, we jump right into the mix as we head to Hollywood, Florida where a fight fan wanted to know the following:
Article posted on 13.04.2009
Adrian C. (Hollywood, FL): How would you grade Chris Arreola after his victory over McCline?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think Arreola showed a lot, personally. Many look at his body and get down on him because he isn't the prototypical heavyweight, but I think the guy has a few tools that easily set him apart from most others in today's heavyweight market. Most obvious is his combinations. He's like a middleweight in a super-heavyweight's body. Many of today's heavies throw great single-handed bombs, but in terms of text book combo's (body-head, or dubs to the head-trips to the body), he absolutely has the best combination placement in the division that I can think of - (as it relates to heavy fisted punchers). Guys like Chambers can do it, but won't hurt you. Chris can hurt you, and he can also take a punch. I think he has the aggression, the intelligence, and the heart to compete at a high level. When you get past the love handles and man boobs, there's also a helluva lot of substance to this guy as well. Pardon me for going comical here, but in a parallel to the Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow movie "Shallow Hal", overlook the blubber and become a lover! This dude is the truth! I love him, and I think he's not only talented, but as a person, his 'boy-from-the-hood' demeanor gives him a certain credibility, a certain realness. I think the sky is the limit, even with the pudge.
Robert C. (Atlanta, GA): What do you think is next for both Paul Williams and Winky Wright?
Vivek W. (ESB): Similar to their past, the present and future for these two men remains a question that few can answer, myself included. Personally, I think the performance of both men rate something nice in the future (Williams in particular), but I wouldn't be too surprised if either man found themselves checking their phone for a dial tone after realizing they still haven't rang. For Wright, in order to get that sharpness he needs, he'd have to agree to fight against far less formidable opponents for far less than the type of money he would desire, and in the end, it wouldn't guarantee him a position in the type of fights he wants. All that being said and he isn't getting any younger. With a win I don't think he would have gotten many phone calls because he never has; with the loss, I think the only way he gets a mega fight in the near future is by playing the elephant role, opening his hands for the 'peanuts' he'll be offered. For Williams, I think a possibility remains that he'll get some OK offers, but I'm not sold on the theory that many will be anxious to test themselves on this particular obstacle course. You have to worry about this guys height, his reach, his output, his heart; he has so many intangibles that I have no idea who might willfully step up for this challenge. Personally, (and I know some may think this is crazy, but), I think him and Calzaghe at 168 would be a helluva fight. He can make the weight, and he'll travel. Calzaghe is obviously retired, but for the right price, I wouldn't be surprised to see a Williams passport accompanied by an itenirary stamped for Wales.
Jaime O. (Miami Lakes, FL): On HBO's 24/7 Ricky Hatton appeared much faster and better prepared than ever before. Do you think Floyd Mayweather Snr. will make the difference in this fight with Pacquiao?
Vivek W. (ESB): I like Pacquaio to win, but I think the addition of Mayweather Snr. to the Hatton camp will pay major dividends and if Hatton is somehow lucky enough to walk away with the "W", there's no question who made it possible. Like many others, I watched the 24/7 series as well and as I reviewed the notes I took from the show to prepare this article, two things stood out to me. Those two things (both paraphrased) was when Mayweather Snr. stated that Hatton had never even really learned how to hit the speed mitts like they do in training, and the other was when Roach told Pacquiao not to ever let Hatton get to his ribs. Those are two very critical elements that can greatly change the total dynamics of this fight. Hatton was already a beast and I thought he lacked fundamentals in a huge way before. Now, having a tenured relationship with Mayweather Snr. and a much better skill set, God only knows what he might be capable of. To address Roach's comments, if Pacquiao is being told not to let Hatton get to his body, it was said for a reason. I continue to say, no one has EVER seen Pacquaio be tested to the body like he will in this fight. NEVER! Pacquiao is the better pure boxer, but a weakened body neutralizes everything. If Hatton gets a free pass to the 'rib buffet' and eats all he can eat, I have no doubts he'll walk away fat and happy when it's all said and done. Just the way he likes to be!
Reggie F. (Bronx, NY): What are your thoughts on the proposed Mayweather/Marquez fight?
Vivek W. (ESB): I don't think the fight will happen personally, but making believe that it will, I think it would pin arguably two of the better pure boxers of this era. Marquez hasn't always gotten the results that some would like, but no one can ever question his ability. In Floyd Mayweather jr., there's very little else that needs to be said. The only problem that I have about this fight is that it's not one I would have advised Mayweather to take without a warm up. I think Marquez can be a tricky fighter and I'd personally try to get my feet wet some where else if I were Floyd. The word around camp is that Mayweather's hands are rested, he's no longer jaded with the business, and that he's feeling fresh, so who knows? Maybe he's up for the part; but this would definitely be a high risk/low reward fight if I've ever seen one and I don't see the point in him taking it. The complications with the weight range I think will KO this fight before it happens though, because as I have stated before, anyone who thinks that Mayweather will fight an ounce below '47 (even for Pacquiao) is not thinking too clearly.
Phillip K. (Orlando, FL): Would you go out on a limb and say that Paul Williams is amongst the top 3 fighters in the sport?
Vivek W. (ESB): There are so many fighters with so many different styles and so many different attributes that it's hard to narrow down any selection as the top three, but all things remaining equal, I'd be lying if I didn't say he'd have to be in that list, somewhere. His resume is not nearly as deep as most at the top of their game in the sport, but what he's doing is unprecedented and I think from a strategy standpoint, he's BY FAR the most difficult to face. In the NBA, guys like Wade, Bryant and LeBron give coaches nightmares because there's no way to gameplan for them. In Williams, you have the same scenario. If going against a Pacquiao, you can bring in a fast, powerful sparring partner to play that role. Going against a Pavlik or Cotto, you can get sparring partners who plod forward or throw powerful body shots. What do you do to prepare for a guy that's 6'1" with an 82 inch reach and throws nearly one hundred punches per round? He's a cross breed between the arm length of a heavyweight (think Lennox Lewis), and a work rate of Joe Calzaghe. I just think, even if based on sheer dynamics, there's no way you can keep him off of this list. I say that for three reasons; In accordance with what every fight fan likes in a fighter, he doesn't do politics and will face ANYONE....He is impossible to gameplan for....and last but not least, he has answered every call given to him, and the one he failed to answer, he immediately nullified. No one in the sport is doing what he's doing, and it's happening that way for a reason. In my book, even if he's not numero uno, or numero dos, the man with the long branch like arms would easily be my number tree! (pun intended)
(Got Questions or feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-292-7346, follow more of his work at 8CountNews and The Examiner, or show him some love at Myspace and Facebook).
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