'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Haye, Hopkins/Jones, Froch/Kessler, Campbell, and more!
Chris W. (Pompano Beach, Fl): I noticed your commentary on your Facebook page after the weekend fights and I wanted to know if you could clarify your position on David Haye. What are your thoughts about him in the aftermath of his victory over John Ruiz?
Article posted on 06.04.2010
Vivek W. (ESB): No question, my thoughts at this time no longer parallel the initial thoughts I felt about Haye, but in my humble observation it's all well within good reason. When Haye first arrived, his ever-pouring words and budding mystique made many think that he would be that transcending figure to not only take himself, but the lackluster heavyweight division, and the sport in general to a new level. The more I see him now, the more I become acutely aware that like many, I just no longer see it happening. Truthfully, I really view him to be a somewhat stagnant fighter at this point. One might wonder how I could reach such a conclusion with him racking up victories, but every single fight I see his veil of invincibility slowly fading, and it all starts with one thing in particular. That thing is his extremely poor conditioning (as evidenced in the very heavy breathing after only the 2nd round)..
Corner shots at one point focused sharply on his belly puffing in and out rapidly in a scene highly reminiscent of the effect you get when you suck the air in and out of a balloon for fun. What was sad was that this was only about the 4th round. One of the biggest reasons Haye was once able to intimidate opposition was the bulging figure he has, but every time I see him it reminds me of some of the ball players back in high school who didn't have the dedication to body build the proper way, so they scarfed down tons of high-calorie protein shakes without putting in the work and ended up with great mass, yet very little firmness to tone their core structure. From a conditioning standpoint, Haye needs to be completely barred from the weight room, for good, and placed strictly on an endurance based regimen. At this point, his power will no longer increase, so there needs to be more of an emphasis on his fluidity and muscle range.
Truth be known, that same abundance of power is what has him lacking conditioning, because he is so accustomed to getting opponents out of there so fast that he isn't able to get the rounds necessary to gain the late fight experience. This reality shows me that the first time he faces someone with enough of a chin to take his shots, enough power to keep him honest, and enough heart to let him know up front that they won't back down, it could be a quick 'game over'. Arreola (based on chin, workrate, and power), Chambers (who lasted 12 rounds with a much more powerful Wladimir and has a solid defense), Povetkin (who has solid fundamentals), and even a David Tua would all wear him down, a few even stop him late. Defeating either of the K-Bros at this point in my book is not even a remote possibility, as one will no longer be around to face him after a while, and the other would use that long jab to soften him up and stop him well inside of 7. Call me crazy, but there are many of us out there, as evidenced by the emails I keep receiving.
Marcos A. (Reseda, CA): Overall, I wasn't thrilled with the Jones/Hopkins showdown, like many, but I would like to know where you think Hopkins and Jones should go from here?
Vivek W. (ESB): In the case of Roy Jones jr., there's very little left to prove, but there's so much more to lose. In losing on points to Hopkins, he is now able to literally and figuratively "walk away" from the sport, rather than being carried away, like so many of our past legends. There's simply nothing else for him to make a run at. The Hopkins debate isn't as simple. In Hopkins, you have the question of his age, but I'll be the first to admit, his style is just so unorthodox and he's just so difficult to hit flush, that it becomes very transparent to comprehend how and why is as fresh as he is, even at his ripe age.
Some ask what's left for him? Well, I agree with him that a Dawson showdown does very little for him at this point. Dawson is a great fighter, but outside of the hardcore circle, the proposition itself remains rather square, in the sense that despite Hopkins' legendary status, he alone isn't gonna command a huge level of interest, and Dawson simply isn't built up enough to make a solid fiscal logic at this point. The only risk worth the reward for Hopkins that would further cement his legendary status and truly tie the score between he and his lifetime rival (Roy Jones Jr.) is a victory in the heavyweight division. He's done just about everything else. Trouble here is that the guy he wants to face (David Haye) may realize the catastrophic downside in facing him and never give him that opportunity.
Call me crazy, but in repeating the words of Joe Calzaghe, "Hopkins is brilliant at spoiling the style his opponent". A seasoned veteran like Hopkins would be crafty enough to avoid flush power punches, well conditioned enough to go deep, and brute enough to bang him around with those rough-housing tactics to really make things interesting down the stretch if Haye gets as tired as I've seen lately. Haye doesn't have the constant work rate like a Calzaghe or Pacquiao, and that's about the only style I see giving the very unorthodox Hopkins a problem at this point. I like the fight, and I hope it gets made.
Alexander R. (Manhattan, NY): Who do you like in the pending showdown of Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch?
Vivek W. (ESB): Personally, I think coming off of a lost, a very hungry Mikkel Kessler will keep the 'home turf' streak alive, winning in Denmark. I like Kessler's experience in the fight, and although it didn't get him very far with Ward, Froch is not the cultured fighter that Ward is. Kessler will be able to take Froch's power very well, and with underrated speed, I think he will be able to capitalize and land some effective power of his own. Froch is a game fighter, but he can be hit, and I think he will try to gun-sling with the wrong Cowboy, this time. I think Kessler hurts him late, and wouldn't be totally surprised to see him actually stop Froch if Froch gets careless like he did with Taylor and Dirrell at points. Should be a great fight, but I like Kessler's hunger coming off of a loss all day long in this one!
Kevin C. (Miami Gardens, FL): What are your thoughts on the upcoming Nate Campbell/Victor Ortiz showdown in May?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think it's a great fight for both men, but I think it could be a slightly easier fight for one of them, depending on how the first 4 rounds go. Many people became critical of Nate Campbell in the Bradley debacle, but to be quite honest, that fight from the very beginning unfolded precisely the way I though it would. It just didn't go as long (due to headbutt) as it would have needed to for it to end the way I felt it could, as well. Campbell reminds me of Hopkins a bit, in the sense that he isn't viewed as the fastest, the most powerful, or the flashiest, but what he does, he does better than damn near anybody, and he makes it work for him when he needs it to. Some people looked at what he did against Juan Diaz and viewed it as an individual performance, but the reality is that this was his official blueprint.
He's gonna make those early deposits in the initial quarter of the fight, and he'll eventually cash in by going to that vintage 'dog fight' mode, knowing that he's tenderized his opponent like a meat mallet by then! Every fighter has their own blueprint that works for them. This works for him. Fight fans need to stop trying to make him something he isn't. Don't look for 8 punch combination's. Don't look for flashy speed. Look for a tough guy and damn good fight before it ends. This is where the problems will start for the unseasoned Ortiz. I won't say Ortiz has no chance because he does have power, but like a new swimmer that lacks confidence, when the water gets deep and the waves get rough, judging by his appearance against Maidana, he may find it easier to sink than swim against a tidal wave like Campbell that believes in keeping his opponent far from the 'shore'.
Javier B. (Brooklyn, NY): A lot of people say the sport is dying but I think there's as much talent now as their has ever been. Who are some of the prospects that has your attention now?
Vivek W. (ESB): There are a ton of new prospects that I have watched for quite some time now, and although it's a huge dis-service to name some and not all, there are a couple that I can say unequivocally will have hardware around their waist and be the subject of several memorable fight nights in the future, maybe even near future, for some. I think the entire squad of Cuban fighters that just hit the scene all show strong promise. Although Solis has a bit of room to evolve, his skills are still pretty solid. Aside from him, Lara is pretty good and Gamboa is an extremely talented fighter at this stage in his young career, but Guillermo Rigondeaux is the prospect of all prospects that I give one calendar year (or less) before we see him absolutely dismantle someone that none of us think he even belongs in the ring with.
He only has 5 pro fights, but with an amateur record of more than 400 victories and only 12 losses (with the most recent being 7 years ago), his mettle is ready to be tested on practically any level. Aside from him, although Kahn is more of a contender than a prospect now, I love his evolution and look forward to seeing it unfold. Then you have Saul Alvarez, Mike Jones, Ismayl Sillakyh, and brand new prospect Frankie Gomez, who I think is absolutely one helluva fighter. Shawn Porter and Ibaheim King are other prospects I'm interested in seeing develop. Overall, there are far too many to name, but each of these guys have "got my attention".
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).
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