'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Ward/Green, Pacquiao, Cintron/Margarito, Hopkins/Bute and Tarver!
Lorenzo W. (Hempstead, NY): I know that you've been pretty big on Andre Ward in the past. What did you think about his fight with Green and what do you see next for Green?
Article posted on 22.06.2010
Vivek W. (ESB): I have maintained for nearly two years now that fundamentally, Ward is the best fighter in the world, behind only Floyd Mayweather jr. Few seemed to see think Ward had this capability, but I think last Saturday night's performance was yet another example of how deep his arsenal is, and like Mayweather, he has grown accustomed to being able to dig into his tool-belt and grabbing whatever tool necessary to get the "W". I think the weight/training concern mentioned by Green was actually a legitimate one, but I don't think it would have mattered in the end, as their skill levels are simply on two totally different levels. Green prepared like any other man with a height and reach advantage. What he didn't prepare for was a fighter who had the ring generalship and IQ to nullify those attributes..
Ward placed him in a telephone booth and trapped him inside. Unfortunately for Green, he couldn't find the 'change' needed to reach this one customer from a long distance! Good thing for Green is that Kessler - albeit very good and powerful himself - is a much easier target to hit, and doesn't have this amazing ring IQ and set of attributes. I think Green gives anyone else in the tournament hell to an extent.....win, lose, or draw. But Ward was simply too slippery and too skilled to fall for anything Green was prepared to bring. I look forward to seeing what Green does next, as I do think he's a good fighter with much to offer the tournament - (although the man who truly deserved to be here wasn't invited (Lucian Bute) for political reasons).
Hector R. (Covina, CA): Looks like Margarito will be getting another shot at Cintron could be ordered again. Cintron has improved greatly. Do you think Margarito's layoff would hurt his chances in that fight?
Vivek W. (ESB): For starters, this possibility is far from a lock. Chavez jr. is said to be having issues making weight, but this unconfirmed rumor would have to be true to even entertain this notion, as it will take his removal from the equation to open the door for Margarito (#3 ranked contender to face Cintron (#2 ranked contender).s This proposed fight would be for the strap recently vacated by Martinez who is now set to stay at middleweight. Once all of that happens (if it does), it will take one huge change of heart for Cintron to come anywhere near Margarito again, as he was recently quoted as saying the currently suspended Mexican warrior and his team can "kiss his ass"!
Truth is, I think that similar to Cotto, Margarito damaged Cintron so much in those two fights that mentally, Cintron will never be able to make the adjustment needed to face him again, let alone defeat him. Padded gloves or not, the work rate, and chin of Margarito are enough to hunt Cintron forevermore. I like Kermit. I think he's a good guy. But that being said, I could totally understand him never wanting anything to do with Margarito again. There's simply too much to lose and practically zero to gain against a man who can't even licensed to fight in the U.S. again. (This risk comes on top of the fact that I think he simply can't beat him).
Robert M. (Charlotte, NC): I saw your question last week about Pacquiao and the "FOTD" award. While I did not agree totally, you said a few things that made me think. Could you explain your position more on the respective careers of Mayweather and Pacquiao and why you think Mayweather would be in equal or greater contention for the award?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think far too much time has been spent on this issue, to be quite frank, so I'll sum my thoughts up in just a few sentences. Perhaps the commentary of Hirsch, (who heads the BWAA voting panel), best set the tone of confusion; as it not only closed the door on a potential Mayweather victory in the voting, but also opened it up for those petty enough to debate it at this late point. When speaking about why Pacquiao rates the distinction, he spoke of the fact that Pacquiao was "the most exciting" fighter over that time frame. That statement answers all questions on the spot, because he made it clear what they awarded the honor based on. The "MOST EXCITING FIGHTER". Although that wasn't the direct title of the award, if that was in fact the basis in which the award was handed out, I don't think there's much of an argument to make here.
It's common knowledge that Mayweather is the man most love to hate. When you look at the popularity contest effect, and mix that with their fight results, there's little to talk about in my opinion. I guess the only true question here is why did the "Fighter of the Decade" award get awarded to the most "exciting" fighter, rather than a man who probably is fundamentally best? If this is the question, I can answer that one easily, too. The same reason why Roy Jones got the award back in the 90's, despite James Toney and Bernard Hopkins being better fundamentally. No question, if asked, I'm sure Pacquiao would rather have Mayweather's "O", than this award; but Calzaghe has one too, and he wasn't even in true contention. At this point, I see no need to dispute this decision. People need to simply move on. Bottomline, I could care less about these type of awards. It would be deemed useless if Mayweather were to beat Pacquiao. We don't know what will happen in the ring, but that's the only place I would like this whole "who's better than the other" question to be answered.
Matthew B. (Boca Raton, FL): It appears that Hopkins and Bute could be a fight we see in the Fall. Who do you like in that one if it does happen?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think this fight will be far more interesting than you many seem to give credit for. Bute has demonstrated that he is on par with the best super-middleweights out there, and Hopkins has demonstrated that - age and all - he can still run with the wolves in that particular terrain. There's a side of me that wants to lean to the youth and athleticism of Bute, who also has a good compliment of skills, as well; but I just find it awfully hard to put anything past Hopkins, at the same time. People keep looking and searching for someone to bury him into retirement, and it seems the harder people push for that, the harder it is to make it happen for them. Don't let the performance against Jone fool you! No one has ever looked good against Jones, and Hopkins' attributes certainly don't allow that, considering the speed and power deficits. Personally, I think it would be have been interesting to see Bute work his way through that very same jigsaw.
When it all boils down, I don't think that this is a fight that I can really narrow down to an easily defined winner. Both men have things they bring to the table that will make them hell to deal with, and until they actually make it happen (if they make it happen), those questions will remain. Slightly, I would lean to the busier fighter in Bute, but there's not one guy on his resume like Hopkins, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him greatly struggle here. My personal opinion leans toward the youth of Bute on a narrow decision victory. He stepped up and has proven better each time out on the big stage. Hopkins' work rate could be the deciding factor.
Greg I. (Orlando, FL): What do you think about Tarver joining the heavyweight ranks?
Vivek W. (ESB): Tarver doesn't have Haye's punching power, and he doesn't have a super skill set, but without those things he still managed to defeat Jones in 2 of the 3 fights they had. Overcoming that type of ability tells me he probably has the necessary tools to move up and make a splash. The major concern I would have is his age. Tarver isn't a young guy, and although someone like Vitali-K isn't either, the size differential, coupled with the lack of athleticism and youth would stop him dead in his tracks. I think guys like the K-Bros are simply too big, too strong, and would present too much of a physical challenge for Tarver to truly compete with. He has failed to finish out dead men walking (Jones, Dawson) on this level. So I just find it hard to see him doing so at heavyweight.
In a different era, perhaps he'd have a shot. If guys the size of Haye or Adamek ran the division, he'd have a better shot. But even then there are no cupcake affairs on the heavyweight level, and despite the thin talent pool, the size differential is truly the reason why some of the talented smaller men have failed to make a splash. Truth be known, it's why we continue to see Haye face everyone but the men at the top of the mountain (K-Bros). I like Tarver and think he has given the sport of boxing some great moments. That being said, I think at his age and respective stage in his career, there probably won't be a notable run to take place - even in a weakened state of the heavyweight division.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at email@example.com, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).
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