'Left-Hook Lounge': Feat. Mayweather, Pacquiao, Jones/Hopkins, and Arreola/Vitali-Klitschko!
Murphy C. (Reseda, CA): I'm a huge Manny Pacquiao fan and I'm concerned with many things I've read about him lately. Do you think his ego has changed or do you think he's misrepresented by writers in the media?
Article posted on 07.09.2009
Vivek W. (ESB): Personally, I think the only ones who truly know the answer to this question is Pacquiao and those closest to him. What I can say is that there has always been a small contingent out there who felt Pacquiao was letting the world around him get into his head, but come fight night, I can't say that I've ever seen a shift in his ability, so I would think that everything is under control. Now, that's the positive spin. If I wanted to play devils advocate here, I could agree with you strongly in saying that some of the recent comments made by him and a few of the other things I'm seeing reported out of his camp have gotten my attention, much like yourself. Pacquiao has always been noted as a humble man and this has made him a very loved figure in the eyes of the media, so I would find it hard to believe that there is any "misrepresentations" of him. If there are things being reported about him that seem to cast a cloud over his actions, I would think there's definite value to them. This isn't a figure cut from the Mayweather fabric, where people love to hate him. Pacquiao is a man that EVERYONE has given the benefit of the doubt time and time again simply for who he is. So to answer your question, I would spend less time shaping your opinion of Pacquiao based on what you've read, and more time shaping your opinion of Pacquiao based on what you see.. I don't know if his ego has in fact changed or if he is being misrepresented by members of the media who don't have his best interest at heart, but until I see him get in the ring and not look as sharp, personally, it's not a question I care much to actually try to answer, and I don't think you should either.
Brent E. (Atlanta, GA): Jones and Hopkins are still at odds after all of these years, but have yet to settle the score. If they actually fought, who do you see winning and why?
Vivek W. (ESB): Interesting question here, but the first thing I'll say is that if this is even a question to fight fans out there, considering that Hopkins is coming off of arguably one of his best ever performances and Jones is being clowned left and right for showing what some view as "declining skills", I guess we now realize that perhaps the value of both men is seen in opposites. Now, think about what I just said and let it percolate. Everyone around the sport continues to dog Jones for his "declining skills", yet there's actually a major question mark surrounding his chances of defeating a man at the absolute top of his game????? This is precisely why I follow my own path when it comes to fighters rather than be influenced by the media (which I'm a part of). Forget about the story lines and the drama, base your opinion on the actual talent in the ring and I think things suddenly clear up quickly on issues like this. Aside from Toney and Mayweather, Hopkins is the last fighter of this era to fight with a perfected old-school capability, yet as great as he is and as big a fan as I am, there's no question in my mind that Jones would actually grab a points victory against him for one reason. Speed kills. Hopkins is a brilliant fighter and currently sits in a knotted tie with Mayweather/Pacquiao as my P4P best fighters in the sport today, but his methodical style would do very little on the score cards against Jones because (A.) he would not be the effective aggressor against a guy like Jones like he was against a guy like Pavlik, and (B.) that would result in him not landing enough shots to defeat a man who recently proved to us that he can still throw 10-punch combinations like he could in their first matchup. Styles make fights and there's no fighter in the sport currently that I think would UNQUESTIONABLY defeat Hopkins, but Jones.
Marco E. (Miami, FL): What do you think will be the determining factor in the Klitschko/Arreola fight?
Vivek W. (ESB): I don't know if you can pin down ONE determining factor, as I think ultimately, a few will deterimine the fight results. Pardon me for going out on a limb again, but I fit within that small contingent that feels Arreola has well more than a punchers chance. No question, he'll be tested in this fight, (referring to Arreola), but he has some tools that I think could very well make him the right man for this job. Since his return, we've seen Klitschko fight a well out of shape Samuel Peter and a solid but heart-lacking Juan Carlos Gomez. Peter had a punchers chance but that was it because he lacked conditioning, which is sad considering the slow pace heavyweights fight at today. Gomez, on the other hand, had conditioning, but lacked the power to buzz Vitali-K and didn't appear convinced in his mind that he could actually win after getting hit a few times. One thing I can tell you for certain about Arreola is that the kid will not be punked for anyone! He comes to fight and he comes to win. Laugh at the pudge around his belly if you like, but I haven't seen a heavyweight that throws combinations WITH POWER like this in ages. Ultimately, (to answer your question), I think the determining factors in this fight will come down to how effective can Arreola be at cutting the distance to get close enough to do damage between Vitali's reach? And how well will Vitali-K handle those powershots if Arreola is able to cut that distance? I actually think Arreola has the power to not only hurt Vitali-K, but potentially stop him. Knowing that Vitali has the power and additional advantages in place to stop him first I think will add an extra element of aggression and make Arreola come out ready to seize the moment as quick as possible. Look for blazing guns from a true Mexican warrior looking to break ground in a dead but awakening heavyweight division. Should be a great fight!
Andres R. (Boca Raton, FL): How do you see the Haye/Valuev fight playing out?
Vivek W. (ESB): Personally, I have very little interest in this fight. I hate to sound critical here, but Haye has done more bobbing-and-weaving in and out of fights than he has against opponents actually in fights. I think his reasoning in one of the fights he backed out of was somewhat justified, but simply put, his water has run dry. I was one of those tootin' his horns when he first made an arrival to the heavyweight landscape, but after nearly a full year of vacant anticipation, rather than continuing to toot his horn, I'm simply ready to blow the whistle! I imagine he'll have enough speed to land a points victory on the giant if he doesn't get chin-checked the hard way first. A solid performance from him is exactly what the sport needs, but I'm not too sure many are still holding their breath waiting on that one.
Wilredo F. (Los Angeles, CA): There seems to be a very conscious effort by HBO to portray Mayweather and his family as good guys suddenly. Do you think this is in regards to weak ticket sales for his upcoming showdown with Marquez?
Vivek W. (ESB): While there are clearly tickets remaining, I don't think that played a role in the direction of the actual producing of the show. What I can say, though, is that (as Leonard Ellerbe made clear in the last episode) there is a desire on behalf of those responsible for such decisions to present the 'other' side of Floyd Mayweather jr. I thought it was great to see that side presented because it's one I've seen in his presence plenty of times, yet few around the world seem to know really exist. There was actually a side of me that watched that episode and told myself that when you pair that million dollar smile, the personality, and the charisma, with the newly publicized fun-spirit, there's no question Mayweather could have been (and still may one day actually be) the face of the sport that he's dreamed of being for so long. As a Father myself, to see him and his Dad dancing and competing against one another was a very amazing spectacle. They've been through the fire and have come full circle which is huge for them both. As a kid who came from a broken home myself, I've often told others that after my own Fathers departure, my best athletic performances came at the few games he attended, dating all the way back to me being a 6 years old running back on a flag football team who scored the winning touchdown on a complicated reverse play to put my team in the Championship game that we later won. Truth be known, I probably only scored that TD because he was in the back of the end zone holding a box of donuts, (true story), but who the hell else in this world would have been crazy enough about their kid to do that at the disgust of the field officials? Tipping my hat to Floyd Sr. and Floyd jr., there's no question a Fathers support adds an extra gear for the toughest level of competition. Whether it be poor ticket sales or not, I think the bigger story here is that it appears a man who used to be stuck in his own 'air' seems to have evolved and grown to some degree, and as a result, may be in position to create possibilities that were once dreams, yet now potentially reality.
(Later this week will be a published one-on-one interview between Vivek Wallace and actor Michael Jai White (of the movies "Spawn", "Batman - The Dark Knight", "Mike Tyson", and "Why Did I Get Married"?)...Accomplished actor, martial arts expert, and huge boxing fan)
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace)
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