'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Pacquiao/Margarito, Judah, JuanMa/Gamboa, & Glen Johnson!!!

Erick R. (New York City): I was happy to see Zab get a win against Matthyssee. How would you rate his performance and what fight would you like to see him take next?

Vivek W. (ESB): A fight I would like to see Judah take next would be Victor Ortiz. Both men still appear to be in that stage where they look good until their opponent starts too, as well. Ortiz is younger and has shows signs of evolving beyond this challenge, but Judah is still deemed enough of a threat to push him a little beyond his current comfort zone. Definitely a good gauge fight for both men..

As far as my thoughts on his performance, I was very intrigued with this matchup going in, but I found myself far less than enthused midway through, and walked away with a total lack of interest by the time it was all over. As much as I have tried to support Judah, the reality is that he's simply another one of those fighters whose 'yesterday', (and that alone), keeps him relevant today. Every ounce of the mystique, and the lust, that we in the media surround his name with is based on remnants of what he accomplished earlier in his career. Nothing more. And I have little reason to have faith that he could ever change it at this point.

I predicted him to win, but I thought it would come from a spirited effort, not what many would term a 'handout'. I won't imply that this fight was a fraud, but playing devils advocate, (because many out there are), I can understand the popular perception of 'monkey business' and 'horseplay', which is why most now simply want this particular 'circus' to leave town.......for good! Think about have a foreign fighter facing a NYC born and bred former champ near his hometown, and two of the judges with limited experience and nothing lose happen to be from the same area? I don't have to agree with that logic to see how some found it to be a 'loaded deck'. What's unfortunate is that knowing questions surrounded him, Judah's effort was still not spirited enough to remove that doubt. When I look at fighters, categorically, I see three classes.

I see that 10% up top who would rather die before disgracing themselves with dishonor - (the Mayweathers, and Pacquiao's of the world). I see that 80% in the middle trying to get to the elite of all elite level. And the I see that bottom 10% who's limited talent will prevent them from ever having a chance to be elite.....basically your consummate journeyman. Right now, rather than Judah being part of that middle 80% trending towards the elite, his progress has stalled, which requires me to place him in the lower end of that middle-class group trending towards journeyman status with others who will never make it. He'll beat everyone in that lower 10% and many in that middle 80%, but the closer he gets to those closing in on the elite group, the more flaws will be exposed. The Bradley's, Khan's, and Alexander's of the world are at the top of that middle-class trending towards elite. My opinion is that currently, they'd all defeat him over or inside of 12 rounds. No question after what I just witnessed.

Miguel N. (Orlando, FL): Some sources are reporting that Roach and Team Pacquiao are not very happy with Pacquiao's camp, others are reporting that the fight will be easy and Pacquiao looked great. What do you make of the conflicting reports circulating?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think you can pretty much narrow this all down to two things. HBO and Team Pacquiao promoting a fight that has suddenly seen it's sales taper off a bit, and a legitimate concern that this could very well be a long night for their man! To address the first possibility, a few recent inquiries shed light on slower than expected ticket sales for this event. Between two estimates, the most recent, and best figure provided verbally certified roughly 32,000 seats sold (estimated figure). If you haven't gotten your airfare and hotel by now, strong odds say you won't be there! Which means they're depending on an influx of locals - to the sum of more than 20,000 - just to reach the Clottey fight numbers.

While I think PPV sales for this fight will probably do about 100K more than the Clottey fight, (approximately 850K buys), I really don't see the live attendance being more than about 5K additional tickets (in comparison to the 51K sold for Clottey). So from here on out, every ounce of suspense, drama, and promotion is geared toward the sell of the fight. This is obvious when you look at the headlines around the world and over a two day span, several Team Pacquiao members give two totally different accounts to separate media sources. One may say Pacquiao looked great, and another is quoted saying he looked horrible on the same day to another news source. Those conflicting stories may have worked in the old days, but in this Internet era where your words are literally published minutes later, words can come back to haunt you much quicker than ever before and expose the promotional plot to intelligent fans who see through this.

To address the second point, when you think of how much bravado Team Pacquiao typically has, it's tough to think they're truly concerned going into this fight, but the reality is that I wouldn't be shocked to know there is a legitimate fear of what may happen. Earlier I addressed the media aspect of this scenario, and one thing I'd like to add is that although Roach and Team Pacquiao like to talk, when HBO's 24/7 crew is there actually taping Pacquiao get drubbed, there's only so many ways you can spin it. There's literally footage to support him looking bad in camp, so that's the thing. When you look at how Pacquiao has gotten tagged in sparring this particular fight camp, there's no way they could say otherwise.

So, yes, I do think there's truth to some of what we hear. How much can be debated, but there has never been HBO 24/7 footage of this type of drubbing on Pacquiao, so even for those who don't have sources to learn things under the radar, a good look at the info available to you provides all the info needed to see promotional tactics or not, there's obviously legitimate concern, too.

Mario H. (Brooklyn, NYC): I noticed each of your predictions on your FaceBook page were correct. What did you see in Glen Johnson coming in that led you to believe that he would do what he did to Allan Green?

Vivek W. (ESB): It wasn't as much of what I saw in Glen Johnson going into the fight as much as it was what I didn't think I'd see in Allan Green coming into the night. There lies the problem and always has. In Glen Johnson, you know what you're gonna get. Old, seasoned, whatever you want to call it, the man comes to perform night in and night out. You never enter a fight questioning his effort. You may question whether or not age will surface, but against a fighter like Allan who never had a strong workrate himself, you know that Johnson isn't gonna tire out because he's the one that fights at a strong pace and keeps the action coming. If he gets tired, he simply takes his foot off the gas for a few.

But I knew Johnson would not get hurt, and I knew he would control the pace. I never really believed that Allan could defeat him. I support Allan, and like him as a talent, but the super-6 tournament is comprised of the divisions elite, and I'm afraid that Allan simply isn't there right now, for whatever reason. To the contrast, Glen is, and had it not been for a ton of bad calls in the past, many would have never allowed questions surrounding his age to prevent them from seeing this. Age and all, the man is at the top of his game.

Basilio E. (Mayaguez, P.R.): How did you rate JuanMa's performance and how do you see any major public interest in a fight between he and Gamboa yet?

Vivek W. (ESB): I saw pro's and con's in my final assessment of JuanMa's showdown with Marquez. On the positive side, I saw a man who has grown in the ring. Not only did he prove that he could fight his way through a few tough shots, but he proved durable enough to stand and trade and make it clear that he's OK with going out on his shield. That takes a lot of courage. Far more than the average fight fan knows at a distance. I thought that JuanMa showed better overall skills and definitely proved that he won't be a 'lay down' waiting to happen when confronted with a formidable contender. The flipside to this assessment was that despite the display of his bigger heart, mechanically, there are still major flaws to be exploited. Defensively, a fighter with speed would touch him a lot more than he may be ready to get touched! If that fighter also has power, it could get real interesting, real fast.

Many of his punches are looping shots, which gives way for that split second it takes to get caught with something nasty you never saw coming. I was very pleased with JuanMa's effort overall and I can honestly say for the first time that I truly look forward to his next fight. That being said, who he faces will have a lot to do with whether or not he has his hand raised next time around. As far as any major public interest in a fight between JuanMa and Gamboa, I think if promoted well and staged in the right city, it could be an absolute smash! Ticket sales were so poor at the Las Vegas MGM for the Lopez/Marqez fight that many were asked to move closer to ringside to give a more full appearance for the television audience, which is horrendous. Not a fault of these two men, but more a fault of the promotion overall.

JuanMa, a regional Puerto Rican fighter who typically makes his waves on the east coast has very little following near the west coast. Marquez is a gutsy fighter, but not a huge name to those who aren't hardcore fans, either. So it was a horrible plan to put them in a venue like Vegas. This same mistake can't happen if and when Gamboa meets JuanMa. New York and Miami are literally the only two destinations I would stage this fight, unless Gamboa is cool with taking a dip down to P.R. Very little interest at this point outside of those few locations, though.

(Vivek Wallace can be reached at, 954*292*7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEKWALLACE747), Facebook and Myspace).

Article posted on 08.11.2010

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