'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag feat. Abraham, Taylor, Froch, Dirrell, Pacquiao, and more!
Alan F. (London): I know that you were pretty pumped up about the Super-6 Tournament going into the first round. Do you feel it lived up to the hype so far?
Article posted on 20.10.2009
Vivek W. (ESB): I thought we saw four very talented men and I feel the intent of the tournament going in was well delivered, as the level of competition was without question very high. That being said, nothing in life is perfect, and certain elements of the Super-6 tournament thus far reminded us that like the participants, it's only human, too. Good news first....I thought Arthur Abraham answered the many questions that some had about him - as it relates to his ability to carry his power north to the Super-middleweight ranks.. Taylor came into the fight knowing that it was basically sink or swim, and with his career hanging in the balance, he failed to deliver (which I'll touch on in a followup question). But overall, I thought Abraham showed us that he will be a force to be reckon with down the line. In regards to the not-so-good news..... I predicted Froch would win the fight, but I take no such credit in his victory at all based on the way he did it. When I score a fight, to give myself a better understanding in the case of possible foul play, I use dual-scoring. On one card, I actually give the favorite (or the hometown fighter) all of the close rounds, and on the other, I do things more practical. Odd tactic, but it helps me to understand the logic in most fights. On my score card for the favorite (who in this case happened to be the hometown fighter as well) I had Froch still losing by a round; and on the other, I had him losing by what would have been three rounds had it not been for the deducted point. For the record, I score based on cleaner punches landed, primarily, because aggression isn't effective if you aren't connecting, which is the fundamental principle of the sport. So, to consider the fact that I practically gave him the super close rounds and still had him losing on my card(s) was not a good sign for a guy I actually predicted would win. I won't go on a limb and yell robbery like some, but no question, no doubt, Froch lost that fight. And to see him continuously hit behind the back of the head and subsequently throw an opponent down (which was a frustration move because Dirrell wouldn't slug it out like he wanted) was truly classless. Boxing is an odd sport in a sense that there are unwritten rules that affect the scoring and there's no way to isolate it from happening. Guys like Hatton and Vitali-K have used the constant 'tying up' method for years, but it never resulted in a point being deducted or them not winning close rounds as a result. Dirrell used that strategy (which I don't support) but basically had judges score against him, feeling the other guy was more effective when he really wasn't. Bottomline, I picked Froch to win, but I had him losing, clearly. He won a fan in me after the Taylor fight, but with his classless antics against Dirrell, that has quickly changed.
Perry S. (Manchester): Of all the six fighters in the tournament, which two do you feel will make the best matchup, and what fighter do you think will be the biggest surprise?
Vivek W. (ESB): Best matchup that I anticipate will easily be Kessler/Abraham. These are two guys who come to seek and destroy and will let it all hang out because they have no choice against one another. If one doesn't aim to hurt, he'll be hurt first. It's that simple. Abraham proved that he can be a good defensive force with his 'Winky' Wright like defensive shell, but if Taylor was able to leave him bruised the way he did, Kessler will surely do damage. Kessler has the power to penetrate directly through that shell, which Taylor didn't have, as evidenced in Abraham's comments after the fight about him lacking good punching power. This is the best match to see from a styles standpoint, clearly. As far as who I think the 'dark horse' is in the race, I'd have to go with Andre Ward. Ward is a man that I continue to tell many is second on my list in the sport - in terms of pure fundamental skills - behind only Floyd Mayweather jnr. He can fight forward, backwards, with angles, inside, outside... you name it, it's in his arsenal. He doesn't have the greatest power in the world, but with that set of skills you don't need to, as we've seen with Floyd as well. Kessler will have to prove that he can defeat a target that won't be there to hit. It wasn't easy to hit Calzaghe, but JC defeated him and he is far easier to hit than Ward will be. This will be a great test for the probable best man in the tournament, as well as the one who has a shot at surprising many of us. As far as a surprise, don't count Dirrell out either. That young man showed me a lot of maturity, both in and out of the ring. He's a class act and with experience under his belt, he'll be hell to deal with. That was his first fight in his career past 10. I'd hate to be the next guy that goes that long with him. He's determined to succeed. Gotta love it.
Jarvis O. (Charlotte, NC): Do you think Jermain Taylor should walk away from the sport? And if so, what would happen with the remaining portion of the Super-6 Tournament?
Vivek W. (ESB): I am a big fan of Jermain Taylor. I like his heart, I like his tenacity, and I like him, as a man. That being said, I'd rather him be able to help bring his kids along with all his mental faculties in place, rather than having to do it without them stable. When you start to hear things like concussions, and guys having memory problems after fights, that's a sign. He's the only guy to notch two victories over Bernard Hopkins, debated or not. He's been a world champion, he's done some other great things; that being said, there's nothing left to accomplish. To his benefit, I think he looked well in spurts, but finishing fights has become totally mental. You just don't lose at the nearly the exact same spot two fights in a row. That last 20 seconds have been in the back of his mind the whole fight camp, and if his corner didn't know it, they do now. He needs to shut it down. It's been an amazing run, but the time has come. As far as what would happen in the tournament if he is forced to bow out, DiBella also promotes another man who many argue should have been in this tournament that I think would be a great fill in, in Allan Green (28-1, 20KO's). Power in both hands, young, explosive. What's there not to like about this sub? I think they need to get this done, as Taylor is clearly not suited for this level of competition until he's cleared medically.
Marcus B. (Dallas, TX): I still haven't heard anything concrete on Mosley/Berto. This type of lay-off can't be helpful. What are your thoughts on the whole Mosley situation?
Vivek W. (ESB): To my knowledge, nothing has materialized in regards to Mosley/Berto, or Mosley and anyone at this time. I think it's clearly a bit disturbing though, because the clock waits for no man. My point about Mosley all along is that we're getting a double-edged sword, here. I think the guy is a class act, but lets call an ace an ace and a spade a spade. Mosley - in his words - is "looking to prove he's the best". There are three other champions in the welterweight division, and rather than face those guys and unify, giving yourself absolute supremacy, the legitimate way, you sit idle at age 37 for a full year without working at all, waiting to face two men who have shown zero interest in facing you????? I just can't justify that move, and I'm sure there's an element of personal interest-based politics involved with the decision, but if Shane wants to be political, I have a tip for him.... Face someone soon.... That's the only "Change we can believe in"!
Carlos S. (Miami Lakes, FL): What do you make of the recent developments with 'El Gato' being kicked out of Cotto's camp?
Vivek W. (ESB): Personally, I think he deserved an answer, at the very least. Aside from that, I'm getting to the point where I'm truly tired of the weekly drama. Between this incident in the Cotto camp and the fist fight between Team Pacquiao camp members, it's just getting to the point where It's all getting old, because none of it has ANYTHING to do with the actual fighters. Remember at first, we heard about how the fight wasn't gonna happen because Cotto refused to put his belt up? Then it shifted from that to other stuff, and other stuff, and other stuff, and yep, you guessed it.... now, there's some other stuff. If history is any indication, we're all in for a rude awakening, because I don't remember the last fight that was built around this much drama that actually lived up to the hype. All I know is that Pacquiao is said to be looking better and Cotto is said to be in phenomenal shape. Everything else is peripheral to me. Can we just ring the bell already???
(For those attending the Pacquiao/Cotto festivities, I will be doing a road rally which will start before the weigh-in. Send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org for detailed info).
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at email@example.com, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), www.vivekwallace.com, Facebook, and Myspace).
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