'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag feat. Klitschko/Arreola, Hopkins/Jones, Taylor/Abraham, and more!
Brett W. (Los Angeles, CA): I thought the fight between Vitali Klitschko and Chris Arreola was unimpressive and didn't see either man as being truly talented heavyweights like we've seen in the past. What did you take from the fight in general?
Article posted on 28.09.2009
Vivek W. (ESB): I don't think you saw that old-school heavyweight talent because at the heavyweight level these days it really isn't about talent, it's about size. Last week, I touched on the Marquez/Mayweather controversy and said that size shouldn't matter. I supported that theory in stating that the only reason fighters take part in catch-weight fights is to prove pound-for-pound greatness, entering the ring with common knowledge that they're giving up size for the opportunity to test themselves at an accomplishment on a bigger level.. (literally). No one seemed to agree at the time, and that's fine, but if we're gonna give true legitimacy to that anti-size argument, I think it only makes sense to apply it here as well. Bottomline, why don't we have a super-heavyweight division in boxing? There's no reason a man 6'8" should ever be in the ring against anyone under 6'5". If there is no size equality to some magnitude (at least 4 inches), how could we ever enter this type of fighter in the P4P conversation when you consider that a majority of their wins come with more size advantage than pure talent advantage - which is the fundamental basis for P4P talks? Arreola had the heart, the chin, and style to maybe not win, but do well against anyone else in the division today, but what stood out to me most was physically, there was simply no way to handle a guy who could touch him from across the ring, or use that octopus like reach to intelligently tie him up every time he got close. If we're gonna yell about a size argument, this has to be the first place we stop? I don't take anything away from Vitali, but I do think the best way to measure a fighter in his mold's ability is by pairing him up against a guy whose physical attributes are more paralleled to his own, rather than someone whose isn't. Put me in the ring with a man standing 5'1" and I don't care what his skill level is, I'm winning that fight all day long. I didn't agree with those who argued about Mayweather's size, but I would love to know why the same rules don't apply in a case like this with these gargantuan sized heavies who literally have enough mass to totally overcome skill and create obvious advantages. Don't agree? Well, think of it this way....We love pre-fight staredowns because it's emotion to emotion, face to face. Is the word "Freak-show" not the first thing to cross your mind when you see two fighters stand face-to-nipple? (Sorry for the visual, but you get my drift...Smiles). We need a totally separate class for these kinda guys.
Jeremy S. (Tampa, FL): Roy Jones jr./Bernard Hopkins is now official. You said before that you like Jones in this fight. Did that opinion change?
Vivek W. (ESB): I must say, it hasn't totally changed, but the more I hear Hopkins talk and hear his tone, it takes me back to a conversation I had a month ago with his trainer Nazim Richardson at a local gym in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Hopkins has always reached his peak when his back was against the wall. I think the speed of Jones and his overall talent level is still better than many give him credit for, but when you consider all at stake in this affair, there's no question we'll see arguably the best Hopkins we've ever seen. I love both men equally, so there's no affinity one way or the other. It's a really hard fight to call, but redemption is a mutha, and the agony of defeat is her only proverbial son (of a "B"). I still lean towards the speed of Jones being the disqualifying factor, but personally, I just plan to soak up every minute of the buzz surrounding this affair, realizing that the morning after, I will have potentially witnessed the end of two colossal careers that can never be replaced.
Aubrey J. (Charlotte, NC): Do you think Jermain Taylor has much of a chance against Arthur Abraham?
Vivek W. (ESB): The same two things that make every fight intriguing makes this one intriguing. We don't know which fighters will show up, and we don't know which fighter will wear down (first). Abraham has been far more consistent between the two, but "coming to America" was only comical in the movies. For a fighter who hasn't spent much time here, suddenly standing on a very big stage against a man who has fallen from greatness and realizes that it's now or never, this arguably has all the trimmings of an upset waiting to happen. I think on paper, Abraham is the odds on favorite, but I wouldn't rule out Taylor returning to form. Despite the loss to Froch, Taylor actually looked very good in that fight, and had he ate one more bowl of wheaties, or had one extra redbull, (pun intended), he could have finished that fight and gotten the nod because clearly, he had done enough to get the nod on the cards up to that point. If he can avoid the Abraham power and not get KO'd, as well as find the strength to finish the fight, a points victory isn't such a tall order. I'll be watching keenly. A loss here and it's basically game over for Taylor. On those grounds, I fully expect him to be far sharper than we've seen in quite some time. Will that be enough? We'll have to wait and see.
Richard B. (Bronx, NYC): Do you think guys like a young Holyfield, a prime "Kid Dynamite" (Mike Tyson), or Ali could handle Vitali Klitschko or Nikolai Valuev?
Vivek W. (ESB): Similar to my answer in one of the recent questions, I think size has a lot to do with this. Tyson's explosive punching and fierce work to the body would have given him a rare way to enter that 'kill zone' of a reach displayed by guys like Valuev and Vitali. The thing with Tyson, he simply would not be denied. If he even thought you were gonna try to hold, in his early days, he would just try to pulverize you before you could even set up to do so. But I still think it's a handi-cap match relative to Vitali or Valuev against typical heavyweights of the past and current, because there's no way you could expect everyone to bring to the table what Tyson did. Tyson may have been able to crack that code in his heyday, but that's a rare exception. Holyfield and Ali had the goods to get the job done as well, but again, these are all guys who are, were, and will always remain at the head of the class. Some may say that just goes to show how great these guys are, but once again, show me how well they handle themselves against a 6-5 Lennox Lewis, or someone else equal in size. That would tell me a lot more.
Melvin C. (Brooklyn, NY): How do you think Joshua Clottey would do at 154lbs?
Vivek W. (ESB): I don't think 154lbs is a great place for Clottey, despite the fact that he could hold that weight pretty well and typically enters the ring in the 160lb range. I had the opportunity to speak with Clottey in an interview last week that will be published later this week where he discussed this very topic, and all I'll say in short is that he's quite comfortable where he is. Despite Sergio Martinez calling him out lately, I don't expect Clottey to step up in weight. As he said in the interview which you'll get a chance to read for yourself shortly, "if Martinez wants me, tell him to come down to 147lbs where I am"! To answer your question, I don't think he'd do bad there, but it certainly isn't in the plans as of now.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Youtube (VIVEK1251),
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