Boxing


'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag feat. Gatti, Agbeko, Pacquiao, Haye, and more!

arturo gattiThis weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' brings on a ton of emotions. Some good, some bad, some absolutely sad. The world of boxing has lost yet another warrior for reasons unknown, and there's no true way to explain the sheer disbelief that follows the story attached. After we attempt to move beyond this tragedy, a few other topics in the world of boxing surface as well. Among them, the usual suspects....(Pacquiao, Cotto, Haye and Klitschko). Also fighting for a little airspace this week is Agbeko, who put in a KING KONG sized effort, as well as his opponent who subsequently came up short (Darchinyan). With no further ado, we jump into the mix with a question about our latest fallen hero, which comes to us from Philly, where a fight fan wanted to know the following:

Terry L. (Philly, PA): What are your thoughts on the Arturo Gatti situation and him as a person?

Vivek W. (ESB): I remember Gatti as an absolute professional and a complete ham. The funny thing is that he had one of the greatest smiles you've ever seen, but you'd never know it because he was such a warrior that we only remember him with swollen eyes or a black and blue face.. Some may view that statement as a slight, but I view it as an honor, because regardless of him taking such brutal punishment to the point to where few would recognize or remember him in a normal state, no one could EVER say they saw him run away from a challenge. From Oscar, to Floyd, to a countless amount of others....he may not have won them all, but didn't run from any. He was an absolute warrior and he did 'it' until he couldn't do it anymore. Perhaps one of the only things in my life that I have a hard time expressing verbally is my love of my two children. When I look at the last few weeks and all of the losses suffered, that sentiment becomes greatly challenged. For a man who measures himself with words and literally picks each one spoken like fresh fruits, this is simply one of those topics that I have no response for, and there's not a thesaurus in the world that could bail me out. It's heartbreaking....it's hard to comprehend....it's unnatural....and it's surreal, all at the same time. Spiritually, I think there's a deeper lesson to be learned when you analyze the evolving climate of the world and the times which we apparently now live in. Back in the early 80's, a troubled Marvin Gaye asked us "What's going on"? Nearly 30 years later there's still no answer for that question. This is a tragedy in every sense of the word. May God bless his soul!

Jose A. (Boca Raton, FL): How do you think the current Pacquiao/Cotto disagreement should be settled?

Vivek W. (ESB): It's hard to say how this will or should pan out in the end. You have Miguel Cotto's perspective, where he knows a big ticket (millions of dollars) isn't even enough to sell his soul and allow himself to enter the ring at a dangerously low weight level; then you have Manny Pacquiao's perspective, where he fully understands that after watching Oscar and company dictate terms for so long, it's now his turn to call the shots and also like them, he plans to load the deck a little, simply because he can. Politics being so strong in the sport, it's very difficult to tell who will bend just enough to get the deal done, but right now, neither man seems to be doing much of it. I would like to think that 32 ounces (143lbs compared to 145lbs) would prevent us from seeing such a spectacle, but the reality here is that Cotto at 143lbs doesn't stand a chance, and many really believe that Pacquiao at 145lbs against a hydrated Cotto who enters the ring at 150lbs+ doesn't either. If I was in charge of the negotiations, I'd split this puppy down the middle. One says 145lbs, the other says 143lbs.....So 144lbs it is. Lace 'em up and get ready to knock 'em down fellas....It's showtime!

Ari M. (Bronx, NY): I think Darchinyan looked a bit off step against Agbeko. How would you assess the fight and his performance?

Vivek W. (ESB): Well, for starters, I don't think anyone should look at it for what Vic wasn't, but instead, perhaps for what Agbeko was. I thought Agbeko looked absolutely brilliant, and I think he was just very determined and proved to us all once again that determination and preparation evolves into elevation. He simply would not be denied. I told a few people coming into the fight that I liked his chances based on speed and defense and after seeing his conditioning at the open workout last Thursday, there was no question in my mind that he had the talent to pull it off. I thought Darchinyan looked good in shades and some of the rounds were a bit tough to score, but when the fight was over, there was no bickering on the Darchinyan side about who really won the fight. I think Darchinyan is still a great boxer and it wasn't one of those humbling losses like we saw Cotto endure to Margarito or Pavlik to Hopkins, so he should be able to regroup and regain (his winning ways) rather than regress. I like Vic, and I hope he does come back strong, but clearly, Agbeko was the better man and he deserves all the respect in the world for his performance.

Chris E. (Hollywood, FL): David Haye had his chance at Wladimir and it never happened. Now that he has signed to face Vitali, how do you see the fight between them turning out?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think the plot in this case has certainly thickened. Many things have circulated in regards to Haye's cancellation of the Wladimir fight, but by the end of this one (against Vitali), he may be wishing that he had that opportunity to do it all over again. I think Wladimir is a bit more timid than his brother, and far more wired in the ring. Vitali, (in my estimation) was always the more talented of the two because he fights naturally. He doesn't come into the ring trying to fill out an opponent. He comes in and he goes to work. Seek and destroy. What I do like about this fight is that Haye will be facing a man who's bigger than he is, more powerful than he is, and potentially more aggressive - which means he'll be forced to fight and he will be forced to prove his mettle, the hard way. Since coming off of injury, Vitali has only defeated an out of shape Samuel Peter who had arguably seen his better days past him by, so it's safe to say he still has some questions to answer as well. I think we can expect to see anything, but for the record, I don't see Haye knocking Vitali out under any circumstances. If Lennox couldn't do it, Haye won't. That being said, Haye needs to come prepared for a full 12 rounds. Vitali won't fight at a killer pace so the younger Haye should be fresher late and potentially win on the cards based on activity and maybe powershots. It's sort of hard to call, but it's gonna be interesting....real, real interesting!

Harold P. (North Miami Beach, FL): I think your article last Friday was the most brutally honest reality check I've ever read in the sport. Why do you think other boxing writers shy away speaking their mind, and I'd like to know how has doing so affected you professionally?

Vivek W. (ESB): Nate Campbell addressed this best when he once said that many writers out there don't say certain things out of fear of not getting media credentials, or not getting high profile interviews. Well, last Saturday at the Darchinyan/Agbeko fight, while those same guys who are afraid to say certain things sat through the fight with a laptop in front of them taking notes, I sat four rows away from the ring with a popcorn in one hand and a chilled, salt-rimmed Margarita in the other, which allowed me to freely enjoy the action without the demands of such stress and I didn't pay one dime to sit there. So, if being truthful and not selling out to make a name for myself gives me that result, I'll gladly keep doing what I'm doing. As a scribe who's a fan first, I feel compelled to be a voice for the people who keep the sport alive. I do this for the 'love', not for Points, politics or punany! It's a passion of mine, I take it seriously, I analyze my thoughts, and I speak from the heart when I try to articulate them. I employ any of my critics to dissect my past material and call me out on anything I said that I wasn't able to defend. My only request is that after they dig up all the past content they can find and attempt to call me out, when I put those theories to bed, they have to agree to jump in those same ditches they dug so I can bury them and their drama in my past. (Smiles). I'm on a mission and I don't have time to compete with critics or try to be something I'm not. I would say that I'm very happy where I stand in the industry, but I'm so comfy in my own skin that I often feel like I'm actually sitting!....(Make any sense?)

(Vivek Wallace can be contacted at: vivexemail@yahoo.com, 954-292-7346, Facebook and Myspace).

Article posted on 13.07.2009



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