'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Mayweather, Pacquiao, Roach, Williams/Cintron, and More!
Mike J. (Denbigh, U.K.) Floyd Mayweather jr. says he's "the best" in the history of the sport. When you consider the likes of Joe Louis, or the against-all-logic victory of Ali over a prime George Foreman, what do you think Mayweather has to do (or can do) to solidify this position in the minds of fight fans?
Article posted on 10.05.2010
Vivek W. (ESB): When it comes to being the "best", from a consensus standpoint, I don't know that there's anything that any fighter can do to earn this claim because as fans, we all look for different things in a fighter. Some like a warriors heart, others like power, others like tactical ability, etc. Personally, I think a high ring IQ and strong fundamentally sound skills equate to unequivocal greatness. I say that because I've seen fighters with a lower ring IQ and better-than-average talent find themselves stunted due to limited fundamentals (think Zahir Raheem); and I've seen lesser overall talent with an amazing ring IQ and pure fundamentals walk away with near endless career success (think Bernard Hopkins)..
Fighters like Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao are crowd faves because of their heart and fan-friendly style of mixing it up, but considering that they use practically zero defense, if they were born heavyweights, considering how easy it is to hit them, can one really assume they'd find the same level of success in a career spanning years in a division with thunderous punchers who possessed a greater ability to stop an opponent than their own? This is why I value both sides of the coin, if you will. Offensive and defensive fundamentals are somewhat trump any other attributes, and a strong ring IQ allows you to employ them at the precise moment in the precise manner.
When you consider that, few have ever accomplished what Mayweather has from a plus/minus statistical perspective. Now, does that alone mean that he is the best ever? Absolutely not! But what it does mean is that I've seen some great offensive fighters (Leonard, Pacquiao) and some amazing defensive fighters (Hopkins, Willie Pep); but when you talk total package.....Floyd is comparable or greater than arguably any of these guys, with the statistics to show. Both offense and defense come at a high premium in his world, and if he's able to shut out a high volume puncher like Pacquiao the way he did Mosley and others, I think no matter what you consider "great", there's no way to keep him from the center of the argument based on statistics, fundamentals, and then resume, as well.
Darren G. (Reseda, CA): Do you think Manny Pacquiao's recent "I want to be a clean fighter and help clean the sport" statement has more to do with his political run? Or, do you think it's a genuine position taken so that he can finally make the fight?
Vivek W. (ESB): That's a question that no one can truly answer but Pacquiao and God. I do find the it all a bit suspicious, because MANY questioned Floyd, but "cleaning the sport" was his articulated position from day one, yet it never helped his cause in the eyes of those same people. Despite knowing that this test would kick off an effort to help clean the sport and the fact that he (as a leader in the sport) could have helped champion the cause, Pacquiao initially seemed more against following the lead of a man he doesn't care for, (Mayweather), rather than doing what was "good for the sport". At its best, I don't think ANY politician can ever be taken at word-to-word value. Now that Pacquiao has crossed that realm, we have to include him as well.
This issue is the very same one that led us to hear everything from him (Pacquiao) being afraid of needles, to it weakening him, to it preventing his training, to Mayweather being "racist". So, to see Pacquiao now change his position and go as far as doing a video feed to the masses only days before his countries voting starts.....yeah, personally, I'd say there's a bit more to it. What will be even more intriguing is to see if this position changes after the elections. Bait and switch is a huge ploy by politicians globally. Win or lose, he'll be free to go in whatever direction he so chooses and when it's all said and done, once again, none of us can do a damn thing about it....whether we like it or not! Stay tuned.
Ricardo T. (Los Angeles, CA): Would you agree with Freddie Roach's assessment that Floyd Mayweather's legs are "shot"?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think Freddie Roach is one of the best in the game and find most of what he says to be spot on, typically. As it relates to this particular matter, it could go either way. It could be a scenario where Mayweather has in fact lost a step with his legs (no pun intended); or the flip side could be exactly what Mayweather said. Which is that there are several other dimensions to his fight game that we have yet to see. I think to many people, (Freddie Roach included, if the truth be known), it was simply a total shocker that Mayweather used practically no footwork to win against a fighter as dangerous as Mosley.
The plan of opposing trainers (against Mayweather) has always been to "cut the ring off", "get physical", and "rough him up in an intelligent way". Mosley had the speed and power to do this better than most, so what did Mayweather do in return? Completely switch gears by fighting the fight he was absolutely positively sure Team Mosley HAD NOT planned for. The biggest misconception in the sport is that Castillo's first fight with Mayweather was a template to beating him, and an even bigger one is that although people recognize Floyd's great talent, they don't seem to acknowledge that this fight was many moons ago and he has had ample time to make sound adjustments, starting with his rematch where he shut Castillo down.
Few people could could comprehend him on the move, but considering how effective he fought against a much bigger fighter with no movement, I think finding a plan just got that much tougher, because now you really don't know what to plan for, anymore. If he stands in your face, it's deceptive because you think you have him, yet you probably don't. If he gets on the 'bike' and keeps moving, you try to cut the ring off, only to run into one of those patented check-hooks while he's backing up. I continue to tell people that an opponents best shot probably comes down to simply trying to out-think him, because he's so deft at what he does, it's really nothing but a chess match. My point.....even if Roach was correct, does it really matter if his legs are shot? Hell, he still managed to somehow make us walk away feeling a very comparable opponent was the one who was (shot). If he did that with shot legs, he's far more dangerous than any of us EVER thought!
Marcus B. (Oceanside, CA): What were your thoughts on the Paul Williams/Kermit Cintron fight? And where do you think they go from now?
Vivek W. (ESB): I know everyone wants to see the Martinez/Williams rematch, but it appears that Pavlik will give it another shot, after all. That being said, I think the best logical fight for Williams would in fact be a rematch with Cintron. Before the fight was stopped, I really felt things were warming up quite nicely and to be totally honest, I don't know who would have ultimately gotten the nod. Williams was having quite a few problems with Cintron's athleticism, and despite being the southpaw, he was also the one who failed to get comfortable with the man standing across from him. Going into the fight I felt Williams' work rate would have been the deciding factor, but Cintron is vastly improved under Ronnie Shields, and I think it's actually a very evenly matched fight.
Both men can find another good fight somewhere in the division, but the reason I'd like this matchup to be settled is because as I stated in the official prediction article, both men have yet to truly answer questions that surround them. Is Paul Williams really a P4P contender? Is Cintron truly ready to elevate himself to stand amongst the elite? There's no better opposition to gauge this set of questions than one another. It was a solid matchup that left us with no answers. I think naturally, they should complete this unfinished business and to answer once and for all whether they individually deserve to go somewhere to the front of the line, or simply pull up the rear in the back where they both say they don't belong, yet haven't truly proven it yet.
Gary R. (Sunny Isles, FL): I read your mailbag last week about Shane Mosley's future options. One person you didn't mention much was the guy he was actually supposed to face to begin with. Do you think Shane Mosley still has what it takes to defeat Andre Berto?
Vivek W. (ESB): This is a very interesting question that requires one to consider several factors to accurately address. Starting with the mental aspect. Consider this for starters....Ricky Hatton was undefeated and very much considered a top-tier threat when he ran up on Mayweather in what he still considers his most humbling ring experience to date, (to include the Pacquiao debacle). This feeling was based on what he termed "12 rounds with a total lack of control", as it relates to his inability to hit a target that always appeared in front of him, yet wasn't when he needed it to be. We saw the same thing when a young Kelly Pavlik went the distance with a man (B-Hop) who prevented him from "pulling the trigger". Neither have ever been the same because such an experience where "nothing works" literally makes a fighter question themselves more than anything else they could ever encounter.
Roy Jones jr. had several fights where he looked fairly sharp after the Tarver KO, but 12 rounds the hard way with Calzaghe sealed the deal for him because unlike even his 3rd fight with Tarver, there was nothing competitive AT ALL that evening. Some would argue that Pavlik and Hatton aren't the same mental warrior that Mosley is, and I would have to agree. But the flip side to that argument is that he (Mosley) has far more miles on his odometer and quite a few other issues to contend with in life away from the ring. Personally, I think Mosley still has enough left to make it a competitive fight, but Berto is looking more and more solid by the day, and if he begins to land and Shane feels he can't hurt him, I think Berto actually has the power to do what Floyd came awfully close to doing, which is stop him.
A victory for Shane does very little because the only other major strap holder in the welterweight division, (Pacquiao), isn't considering him as an option. As I stated last week, his options are very scarce and neither will allow him to do anything substantial for his legacy, as he has fought all the big names at welter (Mayweather, Margarito, and Cotto), and going up in weight he'd run into pretty much the same cast, with a limited opportunity for success again. Hate to say it, but even if he can sneak past Berto, what will it do for him ultimately? Far more risk than reward in that fight. Honestly, I think it's truly about that time......(and you know where I'm going with that one)!
Jason R. (Sunrise, FL): Now that Lennox Lewis is gone, who would you like to see replace him on the HBO telecast?
Vivek W. (ESB): My short list would come down to two people. Mike Tyson's knowledge of the craft itself, as well as his knowledge of the historical aspect of the sport would make him very interesting to hear in an in-depth way. How he gets along with the likes of Merchant and Lampley are another story, though. Some would like to see Roach. I love him personally, but I'm not so sure he'd be a great fit. Oddly enough, I think Floyd Mayweather jr. would be an intriguing selection. Anyone who has ever sat and talked boxing with him knows this dude is one of the most intelligent insiders you'll EVER find. Aside from that, he's easy on the eyes and has a nice set of 'chops', (bringing back that 'smiley' element that left with George Foreman). On a deeper note, I think from a ratings standpoint he'd be a clear X-factor with global star power. It just all makes sense. I don't know who will land the role, but those two would be my top considerations.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at email@example.com, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).
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