'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag feat. Pacquiao/Cotto, Khan, Pavlik, Kirkland, and more!
This weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' touches on some pretty intricate topics around the world of boxing. Making appearances this week is of course the usual suspects, (Pacquiao, Cotto), as well as a few questions surrounding rising star Amir Khan, a still-in-waiting Kelly Pavlik, and a soon-to-be-sentenced James Kirkland. With such little activity around the sport this summer, one would think the buzz would be short. Well, think again, as questions posed this week continue to highlight why this sport is far from dying. Kicking off the mailbag this week is a question from across the pond, posed by an avid fight fan who wanted to know the following:
Article posted on 21.07.2009
Alex Z. (W. Sussex): How would you rate Amir Khan's performance and where do you see him amongst the current jr. welterweight contenders?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think fight fans around the globe are finally getting a chance to see the evolution of a young man whose talent we've always heard about, yet hadn't quite seen.. To some, Khan had been viewed as an unproven commodity. Whether that speculation was right or wrong, here and now, you have to be impressed with the way he seems to be evolving. Freddie Roach has proven yet again that when he has a hungry fighter who's willing to dig deep and soul search to bring out the best, the sky is the limit. Many knocked Khan for losing to Prescott, but despite Prescott's poor showing recently, he's actually a very credible fighter, and Khan's lost to him (in my estimation) was only indicative of the fact that he was facing someone who was better prepared that night than he was. The NBA's Pat Riley always said that "in every lost there's a seed of benefit equivalence", and in the case of Amir Khan, clearly it was addition by subtraction, because that lost on his record produced the one ingredient he appeared to lack....pure hunger. Khan was so purely gifted that he never fought with emotion before. He and Roach have now found a way to manipulate those emotions, and as a result, he's getting better and better with every fight. The jr. welterweight division is loaded with two tiers of contenders that will test him each step of the way. In the 2nd tier you have Torres, Holt, Guzman, Alexander, and Urango. When he gets beyond a few of them, it'll be time to really prove his mettle against the likes of Bradley, Campbell, Maidana, and maybe even Hatton. A Pacquiao showdown won't happen (because of Roach), and a Maidana fight is the one I'd fancy the most. Guess we'll have to see what happens next!
Maurice J. (Dallas, TX): James Kirkland recently plead guilty to his offense. What are your thoughts about his issue and do you think that we'll ever see him box again?
Vivek W. (ESB): I've never been one to kick a man while he's down and won't start now by saying how disappointed I am for such a bone-headed move, but for the record, this one hurts! The most troubling thing about this whole affair is that he did it in Texas, of all places. Anyone who has followed Texas state law to any degree can tell you that Texas is one state you don't wanna fall on the wrong side of the law in. Nothing personal, but this state has historically had little sympathy for individuals who categorically fell across the line. I've heard a 10 year minimal, I've heard more, I've heard less. Truth is, I don't know if he'll box again. They say everything in Texas is bigger. I hope like hell the example they make out of him isn't, because that would be an ultimate tragedy. He literally stood at the doorstep of a better tomorrow. Rather than walking in, he looked back. I just hope now that rather than feeling down and out, he can muster the courage to look up and within.
Jose P. (Boca Raton, FL): Rumor has it that the Pacquiao/Cotto fight is a go, but just last week we heard they were far apart in negotiations. Will fight fans see this fight happen?
Vivek W. (ESB): My short answer to this question is ABSOLUTELY! To explain....Despite those little eyes, Arum sees the 'big picture'. He knows full well that the only way to stay in the game (referring to his relevancy in the loaded welterweight division) is to make sure that he has a 'ticket' (a proven player in the deep division). If he lets this fight between Pacquiao and Cotto fall apart and Mosley slips in, a loss is possible, which means that he would no longer have that 'ticket'. If he lets Mayweather enter the equation and Mayweather ended up defeating Pacquiao, again, he falls from true relevancy. If he finds a way to make this fight between Pacquiao and Cotto happen, win, lose, or draw, the belt stays in his stable, and not only will he have capitalized on one huge mega fight (like any smart businessman would), but he would have then set the stage for a second one, pinning the winner against Mayweather, Mosley, or whomever, only to capitalize on proceeds from another mega fight. It's simple logic....take two for one....basically a no-brainer. Now, the trump card here is the possibility of Cotto actually winning the fight and deciding to skip town at the end of his contract, in favor of Oscar's Goldenboy Promotions. Some say it ain't so, but lets just say that golf game the two shared in Puerto Rico a few weeks ago will forever be viewed as the planted 'seed', and the harvest could flow soon enough. If that happens, Arums plan backfires with no backup, considering Margarito won't be competing against any of the welter champs anytime soon and Clottey is too high of a risk for marginal rewards in return. As far as the Cotto/Pacquiao fight goes, we'll have to wait and see. But I do find it hilarious how each of Pacquiao's know-it-all crew members have found the microphone at will in the past, now they've come out and said that "the issues holding the fight up have nothing to do with weight, it's about money". Uh...fellas...I think we would have heard by now if that was truly the case...so please, put that one in your pockets for later! Bottomline, Arum won't let this fight fall apart, even if he has to dig in his own pocket to save it. My prediction....Just like they'll meet in the middle of the ring, they'll meet at the center of the weights....144lbs....Done deal!
Jason E. (Phoenix, AZ): I've heard that Pavlik is being considered to face Williams, but I've also heard that he's being considered to face Wright. I don't like his chances in either fight. What do you think?
Vivek W. (ESB): Last I heard, the Williams fight is off, because Arum wants nothing to do with a 50/50 split down the middle in that fight. Williams is far too much risk for a marginal reward. The Winky Wright fight would be easier to get done, but as odd as this may sound, I don't think the post-Hopkins version of Pavlik is a good match here either. Wright has been very inactive, but his level of commitment and his confidence is still there. His defense makes him terribly hard to hit, and we all know what happens when a bomber like Pavlik can't engage on his target. It isn't pretty. So, I'd parallel your thoughts in saying that I don't think either fight is great for Kelly, either. What I will also say though, is that Pavlik hears his doubters and is ready to silence them. I expect him to come back strong after such a long layoff. After all, he'd better. With Williams, Wright, Sturm, and Martinez up to bat, he could easily strike out or end up looking pretty foul. Hope he's ready!
Mario B. (Miami, FL): What are your thoughts on Roy Jones jr. and Jeff Lacy, and how do you see the fight playing out?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think the fight itself leaves a bit to be desired. Both men have credible names, but in a 'what-have-you-done-for-me-lately' type sport, neither of those names carry much weight anymore. In the case of Lacy, I think the most telling stat is that he went to the 10th round 3x in this first 21 fights. Lately, he has now been stretched to the brink in that limit or beyond in his last 6 consecutive fights, and has looked very poorly, losing many rounds in return. With Roy Jones, I see things a bit differently. Everyone's love affair for him fell off after the devastating losses, but contrary to popular thought, I think you really have to revisit a few things about Roy. Yes he was KO'd decisively, and yes he lost that veil of invincibility, but had he been in the ring with someone who threw less than damn near 100 punches a round like Calzaghe, how many fighters today (other than maybe a young gun with wicked stamina) could have made him look that bad? I think Jones at 70% of his old self is still better than 90% of what's out there. I like Lacy, but unfortunately, he falls in that 90%. He has a chance, but I think Roy's speed (even at this age) will be far too much. If Lacy had troubles and nearly lost every round against Taylor, Jones will eat him alive. That isn't to say that Jones would defeat Taylor. It's just to say that styles make fights and that Jones' speed will allow him to exploit things in a far more dangerous way than Taylor did. I have great respect for both men, and I'm sorry to say, but I don't expect too many to be hooked on this tale of two hooker's (as they call themselves).
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Facebook and Myspace).
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