'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag feat. Pacquiao/Cotto, Vernon Forrest, Bradley/Campbell, and more!!!
By Vivek Wallace: Jose O. (Los Angeles, CA): I read your article last Friday about the "determining factors" for the Pacquiao/Cotto fight. What do you think about their respective resume's, in terms of how it could affect the outcome of the fight?
Article posted on 27.07.2009
Vivek W. (ESB): This is a very intriguing question from the standpoint that it opens a can of worms few have talked about thus far. Think about this.....Despite Pacquiao being such a well conditioned fighter, he now enters the ring for the first time in his post super-featherweight career as the older man against a fighter in the peak of his prime - (30 as opposed to Cotto who is 28). Granted, guys like Mosley and Hopkins challenge the conventional train of thought daily, but in reality, they are more extreme than this occurrence is normal. Yeah, Pacquiao brings a great wealth of experience into the ring which will serve as a benefit, but show me another fighter in the sport today who has had 54 fights by age 30 and I'll show you a needle in the haystack. It just doesn't happen in this era anymore. Parallel that fact with the countless amount of wars that Pacquiao has had against Morales (3), Barrera (2), Marquez (2), De La Hoya, and many others, and you quickly realize that at some point water runs dry. If he loses, certainly, this extensive track record against all those warriors in such a short time has to be considered. That being said, I must say, Cotto is currently looking like the one closer to burnout of the two. At the tender age of 28 with only 35 fights in his rear view mirror, the one loss he has (to Margarito) took more out of him than it appears all those epic battles took out of Pacquiao collectively. Middleweight contender Daniel "Haitian Sensation" Edouard once said it perfectly. He stated that "boxing is the ultimate metaphorical position of life itself, because when you step in the ring across from an opponent, literally everything you've done in your life up to that point will manifest....Everything from the way you ate, to the way you drank, to the way you slept......everything". And he couldn't have been more on point. All things in the past of both men will play a major role. I just hope for their sake that both men have taken good notes and plan to come prepared on November 14th, because the one who took the shortcuts to get here will undoubtedly be the one on the receiving end of what could be a short night when it's time to exit.
Barry W. (Carol City, FL): I think Timothy Bradley is awesome and is pretty much unbeatable, but I read a comment from an interview where had comments about Nate that made me suggest that he isn't too sure of himself in this fight. Do you think he was being modest? Or do you think Campbell stands a chance?
Vivek W. (ESB): The only comment I think could come close to what you read was when Bradley stated that while watching Campbell destroy Diaz, he lost money in a bet and told someone close to him "Wow, I don't ever want to get in the ring with that dude"! If that was the comment, I can't say that it's something that imposed fear in him. That kind of comment can easily slip off any mans tongue who sees the destruction of another, but Bradley is a game fighter and I don't suspect that he will carry any fear into the ring. Now, the flipside to that argument is that despite the fact that Bradley is a game fighter and there isn't any initial fear factor going in, when he gets into the ring and that same version of Nate Campbell resurfaces, (only this time with him in the role of Diaz), that's when those type of fears surface and that's also the time that that hidden fear will be at it's peak. I always said that we'll never know what Miguel Cotto has left in him until he's faced with the identical scenario he had with Margarito where he faces someone who can take everything he has and walk right through it until Cotto himself can walk no more. He was great against Jennings, but we saw him visibly shaken against a gritty Joshua Clottey who was Margarito revisited - less the killer instinct. This will be the same thing for Bradley. He will be fine until Campbell makes it a dog fight and he realizes that that same beast is standing in front of him and there's no easy way out. Do I think Campbell has a chance? Anyone that doesn't is smoking something they need to leave alone...Fast! I said before and I maintain....Campbell has more in common with Bernard Hopkins than older age. He has evolved into a throwback type fighter, and if he walks through Bradley, I hope people give him his credit, rather than questioning Bradley by taking his away.
Shannon R. (Orlando, FL): What are your thoughts on the loss of Vernon Forrest?
Vivek W. (ESB): Many of us have a knack for asking rhetorical questions in the midst of times like this....things like "Damn, who next"?, or "What next"? Perhaps this is the best time to measure our words even more, because truthfully, I think most of us are so depressed about this recent string of deaths in the world that it's horrifying to even want to know the answer to that question. You literally don't want the answer, because you just know that it could be anyone. No one and nothing is spared, as we've been reminded, yet again. I lost my best friend in the U.S. Marine Corp back in '98 as a result of the same situation (literally) so this is a very difficult topic to comprehend and digest for me. Many have often commented on the fact that they feel my work is generally impartial and non-biased, and despite my flaws, that is one thing I aim for in every piece I write. Simply for the fact that I know these guys all sacrifice a ton and it makes no sense to tear them down for personal gain, then try to be 'politically correct' (and looking hypocritical in the process) by later trying to build them back up. I had nothing personal against him, but truthfully, no, I wasn't his greatest supporter, and no, I wasn't shouting his name in arena's. But I always respected him greatly, and just like those that were amongst his biggest supporters, today I'm in a period of mourning because the fight game has lost another warrior. On that note, I want to personally send my condolences to his family and friends. Buddy McGirt in particular, because this is now the second fighter he has trained and worked with closely (Gatti was the other) who he has lost forever in as little as a 3 week span. I would like to let everyone close to them know that despite our many questions, buried beneath this pain, there are actually some deep rooted answers. Answers that we all need to decode collectively in an effort to help us learn our roles individually. Roles that will guide us in the present to address mistakes from the past, and hopefully generate a better future. May they both rest in peace.
Terry C. (Dallas, TX): Bernard Hopkins recently said that he likes Pacman to defeat Cotto because he doesn't think Cotto's face will "hold up for 12 rounds"? Do you think the cuts that Cotto had recently will play a role in this fight?
Vivek W. (ESB): Absolutely, but the role they play depends on the two men creating the circumstances. By that, I mean that each man is accutely aware of the weak areas where the old cuts were. Cotto will plan to protect it, and Pacquiao will plan to dissect it. Pacquiao is left-handed, but has a sneaky right hand that is lethal, which happens to be on the side of the previous gash Cotto suffered. Cotto will fight to protect his eye, and every time Pacquiao tries to come in, (which he will have to do based on his relatively short reach), Cotto's plan will be to give him something that he doesn't want to feel anymore for the rest of the night. Pacquiao's job will be to land early to the body, forcing Cotto to drop those hands more so that he can get to the eyes. Once again, that will come at a high premium because Pacquiao will have to step in that same 'kill zone' to land there - even more so for body shots. Long story short, the still recovering cuts over Cotto's eye, as well as every other aspect of the fight will all come down to the same thing.....who wants it more and who's willing to go through the most to get it. I can see Hopkins' logic, but hey, this is the same guy that told us he would "never lose to a white guy", and even though it was questionable and he later pulverized another, I'm afraid he did. Excellent old school fighter, but probably not the guy whose words you'll want to use when placing a bet! (Smiles)
Wilfredo B. (Tampa, FL): Why isn't Miguel Cotto putting his WBO title on the line in this fight?
Vivek W. (ESB): According to Bob Arum's statements in several published reports, Miguel Cotto would have to pay sanctioning fees which may tally up to $400K. I don't know the validity of that statement, but taking his word for face value, what sense would it make for Cotto to pay such a huge fee for a strap you may not own at the end of the night? I think that Pacquiao deserves the shot at the strap, considering the history he would make by winning, (a title in a record 7th weight class), but this is just another example of how small hidden politics play such huge role in the sport. Even if the WBO wanted to be cool and say "hey, go ahead, we'll waive the fee".... it would set off a wave of legal actions based on discriminatory actions with fighters who lost their titles in the past for not paying the sanctioning fees. Remember, just a few years ago, it was Carlos Baldomir who lost both his IBF and WBA titles for refusing to pay sanctioning fees. It is what it is, and if the champ doesn't pay them, he can't defend them. We can blame Arum, Cotto, or whomever, but at the end of the day, the fee is what it is and someone has to pay it. If they don't, we'll watch a non-championship mega fight. The operative words there is "we will", because title or no title, any boxing fan with a pulse that night will seek a television and couch nearby it to tune in. You already know!
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Facebook, and Myspace).
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