'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag feat. Jones, Cotto/Pacquiao, Arreola/Klitschko, and Williams/Pavlik!
Barry S. (Aventura, FL): I thought Roy Jones Jr.'s performance last Saturday against Jeff Lacy was impressive. How do you rate him at this stage in his career after seeing the fight?
Article posted on 17.08.2009
Vivek W. (ESB): Prior to this fight, my position on Jones was that despite his humbling losses, he still has more PURE talent than 85% of what's out there today. After seeing this fight - (and I know many are gonna say Lacy is damaged goods.....however) - I think I may have to rethink that position and say it's more like he's still better than 95% of what's out there. Calzaghe throws a million punches per round and it's hard to adjust offensively when you're constantly on the defensive. Based on that, I can't take much out of that loss. I won't make any excuses for the others, but what I can say is that I don't think I've seen Jones this poised and focused in over a decade. Not even close. I don't know if it's the confidence of having his Father as the lead-man in his corner or what, but something paid major dividends. The guy looked amazing. In an effort to not pre-judge like many around the sport, my position going into this fight was that in order to be neutral, I needed to forget that Jones was Jones, simply make believe that he was a rising prospect in the sport, and ask myself when it was all said and done, what do I think his future in the sport would be? Well, no question in my mind, if that was a prospect on the rise that I was witnessing, I'd see him as a guaranteed champ and future hall-of-fame lock! The guy was brilliant. 9, 10 punch combinations...power in both hands...and despite the careful execution, he had enough clout to actually ask Lacy camp members "do [they] now see the difference between a rookie and an expert"? (All in the middle of a rapid fire combination as he paused for a brief moment to admire his work). Wicked! The guy turned back the hands of time and anyone that denies his still very evident talent is clearly basing that statement on factors that have little at all to do with what he displayed. You may not like him, but you have to respect that type of talent. PERIOD!
Jesus O. (Minneapolis, MN): What chances do you give Chris Arreola against Vitali Klitschko in their September 26th clash?
Vivek W. (ESB): This is a pretty hard question to answer. In one breath, I have in the back of my mind that Vitali K. is just such a great boxer that it's nearly impossible for him to take a loss. In the other breath, I have to remember that we haven't seen him tested in the ring since his more than 4 year layoff, and this will be the first time that he'll be facing a guy in his prime who can crack like a whip! Laugh at Arreola's dough-boy frame and all this crap, but realistically, like a George Foreman in his older days, despite that gut, I've never seen the guy winded once in a fight. And the thing about Arreola, he'll make it a dog fight because he isn't the kinda guy that you're gonna push around and scare. I think fundamentally, you have to go with Klitschko. 37-2 with 36 KO's is no mistake. The guy is solid, and he also comes into this fight with major advantages in height and reach. But that being said, Arreola is far from Samuel Peter and Juan Carlos Gomez, which are the only two guys Vitali-K has defeated in his return to the ring. He will be tested, and if he isn't careful, definitely, Arreola can give him a few good reasons to step away again. Should be a great fight.
Shawn E. (Miami, FL): Do you think Paul Williams can knock out Kelly Pavlik?
Vivek W. (ESB): Well, any man can be knocked out on any given day, but do I think Williams will knock him out? No. Not at all. But I do think the fight itself hinges on a few things that could make it very interesting. Since the humbling loss to Hopkins, Pavlik has not been the same. I can remember saying that we won't know what Cotto's future would look like until we see him in a similar position to that in which he faced in the Margarito fight, and in the Clottey fight, even with the nasty cut, he fought on and fought on valiantly, which proved to many that his heart was still in tact. Well, lets just say that I haven't seen such a followup effort from Pavlik, and this could be that similar defining moment. Winky Wright has one of the most impenetrable defenses in the sport, and despite his layoff, he didn't look out of shape against Williams. He just couldn't stop the activity of Williams, and was simply overwhelmed. Same with Jones in the Calzaghe fight. This will be Pavlik's first time squaring off against a fighter whose offense is so active that he won't really be able to mount one of his own. If he gets that feeling of helplessness once again, it'll be a long fight for Pavlik. If he weathers the storm after realizing that his future in the sport is hanging in the balance, it would answer what now stands as perhaps the biggest challenge that awaits him. A KO for Williams, I don't think so. But a loss for Pavlik, very possible if he doesn't learn to make mid-fight adjustments.
Roberto L. (Boca Raton, FL): If Pacquiao loses to Cotto and Mayweather defeats Marquez, do you think we'll still get Pacquiao/Mayweather?
Vivek W. (ESB): No. I think the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight is already very difficult to make happen because unlike Cotto, Mayweather won't concede certain things, and if he defeats Marquez, (especially by KO), he will feel like he's the better fighter and should receive the most profit and beneficial aspects. Perhaps if Pacman is coming off of a loss then he'll concede a few things to Mayweather, (and rightfully so), but I can't say that I see the fight happening, especially if he (Pacquiao) loses. First off, a loss for Pacquiao would kill any attempt to see him immediately face Mayweather right afterwards. If Pacquiao loses by bad KO, there would be no demand, so it won't happen then. If Pacquiao loses via decision, his only interest will be a rematch. Considering the fact that he fought Barerrea, Morales, and Marquez twice (or more in the case with Morales), I don't see him looking to do anything else but avenge the loss if he comes up short against Cotto. Arum - (being the collective promoter) - would make this happen, most definitely. So with the possibility of there being either no demand or strong demand for a rematch, either way, I don't see a Pacquiao loss equating to a fight with Mayweather anytime soon. Now, if both Pacquiao and Mayweather win, there's no question the fight would be made, and I think it would easily eclipse the records set by ODH/Mayweather in their fight because in this case, the world does truly await, as opposed to the last time where the promotion was given that title, and everyone walked away wishing they hadn't.
Ozzie M. (Ft. Lauderdale, FL): If Williams defeats Pavlik soundly, do you think he should be considered for P4P honors in the sport?
Vivek W. (ESB): Personally, I think the whole P4P argument today is totally subjective - according to who's rating the fighters - and I think there's a way to champion the cause of any fighter who has above average accomplishments under his belt without taking into account the true facts. To me personally, P4P should be based on pure fundamentals that transcend any era of time in the sport. Talent like Hopkins, Jones, Mayweather, Robinson, Toney, etc. Guys that could get the job done with their skill level if they were either flyweights, big heavyweights, or anywhere in between. Just guys with awesome fundamentals. That being said, I realize that it's more a popularity contest now days and the closest we come to being neutral on the topic is the consideration of fighters who do a few things outside the norm, whether they have outstanding pure skills or not. Back at the end of '08, I did a year ending awards article where I listed Williams as a "dark horse" in the P4P race because I just felt that what he was attempting to do by going up in weight and challenging opponents in other weight classes was unprecedented. Pacquiao did something similar, but defeating David Diaz while Nate Campbell was the undisputed champ, and subsequently defeating a weight depleted Oscar De La Hoya left room for some to debate that accomplishment, as those two names were very notable, but not very resistant, (let the truth be told). I don't know if either Pacquiao or Williams would make my true P4P list, but using todays norm, if we're gauging their upcoming fights to decipher this point, I think that still leaves room for question. Both are facing men who are considered to be damaged goods, so is it really fair to use their upcoming fights as a point of contention in this question? I don't think so. If they win, critics will bring this point up all day long. Should Williams be considered a P4P candidate if he soundly defeats Pavlik? In todays P4P landscape, perhaps so, but when measured by the text book definition, I'd go out on a limb and truthfully say that I don't think either guy (Williams or Pacquiao) would.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube (Vivek1251), Twitter (Vivek747), Myspace, Facebook, and www.vivekwallace.com)
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