'Left-Hook lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag feat. Pacquiao, Williams, Vitali-K, and Margarito
Ivan S. (San Diego, CA): What points stood out to you most about the first edition of HBO's 24/7 for the Pacquiao/Cotto fight?
Article posted on 26.10.2009
Vivek W. (ESB): I thought that there were several key factors, but perhaps the one that stood out the most to me was the fact that there seems to be so much tension in the Pacquiao camp. We knew some things, but to see actual footage and hear actual audio was quite disturbing when you consider the history between he and Roach. To hear Freddie Roach speak about walking away from Pacquiao was a shocking revelation, but according to some, very much in sync with the current climate there. Perhaps being back at the 'Wildcard' in Los Angeles will help, but the more I hear, the more I wonder how much the recent past will affect the no longer distant future. The fight is in 3 weeks and although Pacquiao is said to be better, I just really question if he can pull it all together in time. He's been through a lot. From where he's been in life to where he now stands, it's been a long journey. The next chapter in that journey is on the brink of being pinned. The operative word there being PINNED, because in the game of life, there are no erasers.. Each act is final, while second and third chances are reserved solely for those on the baseball diamond and the gridiron. My case in point, boxing is a sport, but this mega fight isn't a game. If Pacquiao and his team aren't prepared to take it seriously, it could be game over. Think about it.
Jason E. (Miami, FL): There are several fights lined up for the remainder of the year, but aside from the Pacquiao/Cotto fight and the Super-6 Tournament, what fight do you most anticipate?
Vivek W. (ESB): To answer the question directly, I would have to say the Funeka/Guzman fight, but considering that it's on the Andrade/Bute card, I'd have to say my choice of answer for your question is that card itself. Both Guzman and Funeka are two fighters that I have great respect for. Guzman is very skilled, and Funeka is highly underrated. Watching Funeka against Campbell was amazing, yet seeing the agony he endured after the loss and how he cried amidst the pain of letting his country down, I grew a totally different respect for him because he is truly a hungry man. That height, reach, and those double jabs that he throws makes him a tough matchup for anyone. The fight between he and Guzman will definitely be a thriller. Aside from that, the Andrade/Bute fight is a rematch I've wanted from the very end of the first fight. Had it not been for Canadian house referee Marlon B. Wrong (pun intended) Andrade would have won the first fight. This rematch could turn out to be poetic justice. And if I can add a third fight to the equation, speaking of poetic justice, another fight I'm curious to see is the rematch between Dawson and Johnson. That fight is another one that ended in controversy, and although this one is in the backyard of the man who walked away with the "W", his opponent knows that his career hangs in the balance and I really think he could find a way to prove his worth to the world......again! So there are some great fights planned. Categorically, none are considered mega-fights, but I have no doubt that each will contain action to parallel one.
Richard B. (Bronx, NY): Now that the Pavlik/Williams fight is off, what do you think is next for Paul Williams?
Vivek W. (ESB): That's a great question, but there's at least one man that I think would make for a helluva fight against him. Trouble is, he's busy waiting for huge paydays, rather than square off against men in the sport who can actually assist him in solidifying his somewhat self-proclaimed reputation for being the best fighter in the welterweight division. For those who weren't able to put the pieces together, yes, I do mean 'Sugar' Shane Mosley. The Berto fight appears to be dead in the water. The Clottey fight was turned down by Mosley because he apparently wants his own show and doesn't want to be on anyone's undercard - which is understandable considering his well storied history in the sport. So, whatever the case may be, good or bad, Mosley appears to be without a dancing partner and so is Williams. Williams wants to fight before the end of the year, so does Mosley. Both men feel avoided by their contemporaries, and both men feel the sky is the limit. With so much in common, why not get the deal done and make it happen? The only question would be the weight, as Williams has been hovering in the 154-160lb range, and Mosley is said to be comfortable campaigning at the welterweight limit of 147lbs. Not too long ago, he was campaigning in the 154lb range, but I don't see him making that move for this fight. That being said, Williams will probably end up squaring off against someone like Argentinean Sergio Martinez, which isn't exactly a bad option. We'll have to wait and see.
Marcus R. (Chicago, IL): I saw your recent argument about the size differential between guys like Vitali Klitschko and Nikolai Valuev in comparison to other heavyweights today. How much of a factor do you think size will play in the Valuev/Haye showdown?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think it will play directly into that argument. Perhaps we'll all never agree on that sentiment, but anyone with an ounce of common sense knows full well that when a man holds such a huge height and reach advantage, if he has a certain skill level and a certain level of athleticism, it's gonna be very difficult to overcome the issues he presents. Guys like Chris Byrd and Chagaev have been blessed to overcome those differences, but they were rare cases, and this fight will prove that theory correct once again. No one in or around the sport could tell me that Valuev is anywhere near as talented as David Haye, but I'd bet my bottom dollar on this being one of - if not THEE - toughest fight that Haye has ever been a part of. Some will say size is irrelevant, but if Valuev were the same size as Haye with the same set of skills that we see in him with today, he'd be beat down by a guy like Haye, rather easily. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Haye has the power to hurt most, (evidenced in his 21 KO's in 23 fights), but when you consider his body of work, you really have to question how legitimate it really is. His last 3 fights are considered his most career defining, but a brief examination makes for muddy waters quickly in that pond. Mormeck was talented, but fundamentally not a top tier fighter (in my estimation). Enzo Maccarenelli has been KO'd in two of his past 3 fights; and Monte Barrett was in poor shape when they fought, never landed one flush blow, (as mentioned by the U.K. broadcasting staff), and was recently KO'd in 2 rounds, which demonstrates his true worth right now in the sport. None of these guys present the challenges that Valuev will, and although each of those men have better mechanics and fluidity, it's an arguable point that neither make a bigger impact than he will in the end. For the sake of the division, I hope Haye gets the nod, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him humbled.
Charles S. (Northridge, CA): How do you feel about the possible return of Antonio Margarito?
Vivek W. (ESB): All things remaining neutral, I would say that I'm very intrigued, personally, in the sense that I want to see what he has left to dedicate to the sport. No one can argue about why he has been cast into shark infested waters (for lack of better terms) for being caught with the illegal padding, but what always intrigued me the most about him as a fighter was something that made him effective without those illegal pads. That was his warrior mentality, solidified by a granite chin and a relentless work ethic. As far as the whole glove padding issue, there was no one in the industry as vocal as I was about him and the lack of integrity he showed, but considering that any judge has to rule based on factual evidence, when we judge him, we have to do the same. I don't have any concrete information that indisputably proves to me that HE KNEW his pads were loaded. I think anyone who has boxed as long as he has would feel the difference, but that still doesn't tell me for sure that he knew. Capetillo was said to be the orchestrator of this foul play, and the fact that he never went after this man (legally) who allegedly tore down his reputation also makes me scratch my head. But once again, being that there's no bona fide proof that he was in on this wicked plan means you have to reinstate him. As far as who he faces and what he does, now that we know Cotto is off the table, the only thing for him is possibly a run at jr. middleweight (154lbs). Rumor has it that he was weakened for the Mosley fight because he was having troubles making weight. Well, after a year layoff, I don't think that situation corrected itself. As a matter of fact, I'd venture to say it probably got worst. So, I think a trip to 154 will be part of his forecast, as none of the current welters will care to step in the ring with him, for one reason or the other.
(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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