'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Mayweather, Pacquiao, Williams, JuanMa, and more!!
Jeffery M. (Miami, FL): I would like your opinion on this assessment: Would it be fair to say that Floyd Mayweather jr. and LeBron James are two of the most physically talented men in the history of their respective sports; yet neither may ever be viewed as truly great because they chose the easiest path to reach a legendary status.
Article posted on 12.07.2010
Vivek W. (ESB): I'll start by saying I find your assessment to be a very intriguing comparison. While it's an excellent talking point for those out there who don't particularly like the two men, the reality is that the reasons they individually chose to take their respective paths professionally vary, and both can be validated to an extent. In the case of Mayweather, you have to remember, he's the proverbial "man-we-love-to-hate", so it's fashionably correct to look at him in the current, yet fail to acknowledge his efforts of the past. I'd be the first to strike down his outside-the-ring antics, but I can truly say the man is very skilled at what he does and there was never a discussion about him ducking fighters until he began to irritate people with his self promotional antics. When Genaro Hernandez was the man, he took the challenge and defeated him. When Corrales (RIP) was the man, he overcame a great height, reach, and 18lb deficit on the night of the fight and made it look easy. When he faced Castillo and some felt he lost, he solidified his claim of fighting "injured" by giving an immediate rematch and subsequently dismantled the same Jose Luis Castillo..
We saw this many other times beyond that point, culminating in a streak that made him the only fighter (that I can think of) in history to defeat three pound-for-pound competitors in a row - (Ricky Hatton at the time was the undefeated jr. welterweight Ring Champion and ranked within the top 10 P4P globally, Marquez was listed as the #5 P4P fighter in the world, only losing to Pacquiao and the undefeated Chris John within a near 10 year span, and Mosley was listed as a top 3 P4P fighter at the time they met). There are many out there that will contend that he didn't face the best fighters of the welterweight division, but it should be duly noted that the same reason his fight with Pacquiao has been so difficult to ink borders on the same reason why he didn't fight those contemporaries that most would have liked to see him face. That reason is that the two key figures were Top Rank fighters, (Cotto/Margarito), and the bitterness between Arum and Mayweather has never truly simmered. Neither side is EVER willing to give in. With Margarito, Arum new that Baldomir's camp put up an $8M offer, yet Top Rank never increased the offer - making Baldomir the default selection, considering he was the lineal champ with two straps and offered comparable money.
With Cotto, back in '05, it's common knowledge that his camp turned down an offer to face Mayweather as jr. welterweights, and as welterweights, there was never an offer presented at all by Top Rank. So, some can dispute Mayweather's path to greatness, but the reality is that the period in which the questions began, ('06 as a welterweight), every single fight he took had major implications. Zab was a solid matchup, Baldomir was lineally recognized, ODH was a jr. middleweight champ and cash cow, and Hatton, Marquez and Mosley were P4P recognized fighters. I can live with that track record, personally. In regards to LeBron, I'll just say that he honored his contract, and ended his obligation. That entitled him to play WHERE EVER he chose, which just happened to be with his best friends. In the Olympic games, we assemble the best team available to solidify victory. These three friends (Wade, Bron, and Bosh) simply sacrificed quite a bit to duplicate that very same template. True pioneers.....because I can guarantee you this won't be the last time you see this effort attempted.
Kerwin B. (Queens, NYC): We have reached the mid-July point, but we haven't reached a deal between Mayweather and Pacquiao. Why hasn't this fight been made?
Vivek W. (ESB): This is a question that I don't think anyone on the outside looking in can truly answer. With the eyes of the world on the NBA last week in anticipation of LeBron James' "Decision", I thought to myself "there's only ONE other decision in the world of sports close enough in magnitude to share this stage", and I hoped inwardly that the news would drop of a finalized deal on the same day.....to no avail! What's even crazier is that from the info I've gathered through various sources, the true sticking points have been all agreed to. The drug testing issue is resolved....the money is said to be resolved...to my understanding there's a collective rematch clause by both parties! All angles seemed to have been covered, but then the stories surfaced about possible tax implications, and the looming trial of Roger Mayweather. I can't be too opinionated about the tax implications because the IRS is NOT someone I'd want a problem with, (been there done that, trust me, they don't play)!
Beyond that, I can't really take any excuse as a valid one for Team Mayweather not moving forward. Floyd Snr. is more than adequate to train little Floyd, and in the Mosley fight, many may remember how frequently Floyd looked over to his Father in the seated audience for guidance, despite having Roger in his corner. I can understand the chemistry concerns, but hey, Roger took over as a result of Floyd Snr. being incarcerated. I think Floyd Snr. is more than capable of rekindling that old flame with his son in a case like this as well. Jeff Mayweather is certainly capable of assisting. So, whatever the case may be, I do hope that Team Mayweather either moves forward or goes public with a legitimate reason why the fight can't happen now, rather than leaving it up to 'sources' to explain. Not only does Floyd need to remain active, but the fight public deserves to know why their end of the bargain remains unfulfilled. I'd stop short of joining those who yell 'fear-factor', but a non-response would probably be enough to make me question a few things, as well.
David A. (St. Louis, MO): Why is no one talking about the fact that Arum/Team Pacquiao have yet to even mention Paul Williams' name as a possible candidate to face Pacquiao?
Vivek W. (ESB): Recently, there has actually been one person to bring Williams up as a potential candidate for Pacquiao. Trouble is, that ONLY person is his promoter! Aside from Goosen, I'd have to say that I'm a bit shocked as well that the fight public isn't demanding this possibility. I can remember at the close of 2008, I listed Paul Williams as a 'Dark Horse' to watch out for, and spoke of the fact that he gives true meaning to the term Pound-for-Pound, as he has truly gone from division to division literally seeking the best man available without any excuses. The fan buzz surrounded Pacquiao because he was a humble guy, and all of this good stuff, but the key difference between the two is that Williams has never asked anyone for a catch-weight and has literally called out every champ in each of the respective divisions he has gone too. Manny Pacquiao has done a helluva job zipping through the various divisions, but the catch-weight request have given his critics room to criticize.
What I like about this prospective showdown is that it helps tear down some of the hoopla in the sport today that gives certain fighters accolades based on star power, rather than true ability. Someone like Winky Wright and James Toney have always had the skills to compete with the best, yet didn't possess the star power, therefore they were never viewed as P4P contenders. Same holds true with Williams. He doesn't have the resume of Pacquiao, yet he doesn't get the same level of opportunity either, because no one will face him. This is a fight I'd love to see Pacquiao in far more than a rematch with Cotto or a Margarito showdown. It's a winnable fight for him, and at 147lbs, there should be no issue, particularly considering that he was on the brink of facing Cotto at a catch-weight of 151 lbs. Personally, I think this fight would do far more for Pacquiao's legacy, because this is a consensus P4P fighter, in his prime, who isn't tied to Arum's stable. Pacquiao is deemed to be the P4P king of the sport, eh? Well, now he can face a man who has made his argument in the ring as well, rather than the one who typically states his case outside of it!
Carlitos I. (Kendall, FL): How do you see JuanMa handling the skill and style of Marquez?
Vivek W. (ESB): I consider myself a fan of JuanMa. I like his heart, I like his passion, and I love his power! What I'm not feelin' about Lopez is the fact that, (like a few other fighters today), I simply don't see the evolution in his overall skill set. He seems stuck on a certain gear that doesn't seem to elevate. Every single fight we see the same thing. He takes a shot, he lands a shot, he takes a few shots, he lands a few shots. He has been pretty lucky (particularly the other night) that his power saves him. But, fundamentally, there's quite a bit to correct within his style. I've criticized David Haye in the past of fighting with little control and failing to harness his emotions, but at least Haye sets his punches up at times. The most telling stat in JuanMa's numbers was his dismal 1 of 37 landed jabs. He isn't being taught to setup his power, and is burning himself out quickly in a fights by throwing all bombs. This is a costly mistake against a fighter like Marquez.
Marquez is a smaller fighter, but if he can take Lopez's power, I predict without question that Marquez will get the nod. I'm not so sure he will stop him, but if Concepcion was able to catch him flush and hurt him, Marquez will on multiple occasions, as well. I think it will go down as a great fight, but mark my words.....if there is no emphasis in his training camp placed on stamina, control, and defense, Marquez wins this fight hands down. Maybe even easily.
Rocky E. (West Palm Beach, FL): I notice that there's a similar issue brewing in the NFL about steroid testing. If blood testing is the better option, why are so many athletes opposed to it?
Vivek W. (ESB): Well, due to the sensitivity and nature of the matter, I guess I should tread lightly. But considering that I've never met a good debate I didn't like, I'll just be blunt......The only people who refuse breathalyzers are people who have been drinking and know that they crossed the limit. Similarly, the only logical explanation for those who flat out refuse bona fide testing is that something simply isn't clean. By and at large, the reality is that just like banks, scientist, and other aspects of civilization evolve, so does the makers of these steroids. Ask Victor Conte! What I don't get about this debate is that we as people seem to be fine in life with upgrading our cars, homes, and clothing, yet many of the same people seem to take issue with upgrading methods that society uses to prevent our transgressions. Bottom line, times have changed, and in an effort to change with them, there's always a need to elevate from an old testament to the new, so to speak. It's not my job to convict anyone or condemn anyone, but considering that there are tons of conceivably good men and women who have been found scheming, (think Marion Jones and Mark McGwire), I am a firm believer that no stone should be left unturned in this 'quest to find the best' (method).
Currently, in the NFL there is a test used that can detect HGH usage 48hrs after consumption. The league wants to implement the new test available that allows detection up to 14days. As much as I love football, the real benefit in hearing that news (to me) comes in the fact that this new test would alleviate the need for any testing within 2 weeks of fight night, (in boxing), which we sure as hell could have used back in January when things broke down between the Mayweather and Pacquiao camps. All in all, I think the new test methods will go a long way in cleaning up sports in general, and for those who speak about the debate of urine versus blood and simplicity of it, Adolfo Birch (the man who oversees drug policy in the NFL) said it best: "In a perfect world, a urine test would be far easier for us to deal with and administer than a blood test. The problem is, we thought there was some chance a better urine test could be developed. That's looking increasingly less likely. The practical reality is, we need to focus on a test that works, and the test that works is blood." He has said it....the maker of many of these test defeating drugs has said it, (Victor Conte), and a host of others. If those experts can't solidify the point, I don't think it can be done.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, YouTube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).
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