'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Kirkland, Guerrero, Morales, & Vitali/Adamek!
Rocky B. (Tyler, TX): I think James Kirkland looked horrible Saturday night and I really don't think this kid has much of a future in the sport. Where do you think he goes from here?
Article posted on 11.04.2011
Vivek W. (ESB): For starters, I think it's very premature to say that he has little future in the sport. I've seen far worst talent go very far. I can't endorse that statement on any level, but what I will say is that a few things are very clear to me. First off, I think it was a mistake of colossal proportions to place him in the ring with someone of Ishida's caliber with so little training time. I know there was this huge movement to "get Kirkland back where he was prior to incarceration", but like anything else in life, when we rush things, we move too fast to be able to see obstacles that were very present in hindsight.
Everyone was talking Martinez, Cotto, this one, that one.......as good as he has looked, Kirkland wasn't quite ready for those guys prior to incarceration, so to even hear the buzz about this possibility only months after returning to the ring was wishful thinking and pure hype in my book. To date, Kirkland has 85 rounds under his belt, and that comes on the heels of a very slim amateur career. Of those 85 rounds, only 3 came prior to his fight with Ishida. Like the Goldenboy Promotion matchmakers, some may have viewed Ishida's 6 losses and laughed, but this kid has always possessed deceptive power, but more than anything, excellent durability. In effect, he's a poor man's Glen Johnson. Always game and very threatening under the right circumstances.
With 239 rounds under Ishida's belt, on experience alone GoldenBoy Promotions should have known better than to take this risk without giving Kirkland more time in training camp. For those that never heard of Ishida, I can tell you that not only does he hail from a place I've spent considerable time, (Osaka, Japan), but those from that city of his view him to be the real deal, and with good cause. Wanna figure out how much potential Ishida truly has? Consider that he effectively stripped a very strong fighter of his most prized intangible (referring to how he totally nullified Kirkland's southpaw stance as an orthodox fighter and landed at will).
The moment I saw them peg him in I knew this meant trouble for Kirkland. As far as where Kirkland goes from here? I think the prison time was a major obstacle, but this can be even more threatening to his career in the ring, as the true fight starts now! He's been knocked down, but can he get back up? That's what he's gonna have to prove to the fans of the sport, and himself.
It wasn't a humbling beating, and similar to Marquez (being knocked down 3 times against Pacquiao), he could have actually fought his way back in that fight late. We don't know. Neither does he. Sometimes that type of ignorance can be a good thing. Similar to Solis, a first loss that doesn't come decisively allows the heart of a fighter to remain in tact. Lets see what happens next.
We've talked in the past about your predictions and you know I think many of them suck, but when you're right, you're almost always the only one that is. I saw your comments on your facebook page and your radio show all week about Morales having a strong shot and Kirkland having troubles against Ishida. What did you see coming into these fights that made you think that way (in both cases)?
Vivek W. (ESB): As it relates to my predictions, I'd be the first to say that there's nothing orthodox about how I reach my opinions/conclusions. Some people predict based on trending. Essentially saying fighter A has been on a roll, and fighter B is sliding, or that kind of thing. With me, predictions go a bit deeper. It's funny, because I actually sat with Emanuel Steward one time and we discussed this very topic and it was funny how he and I have visions on this topic that are totally paralleled. Everything from analyzing a fighters body language, to his press conference emotions, to observing their rituals, etc.
There's a much deeper logic in how I assess things when I make a selection and a lot of it comes down to deep and extended film study, as well as a number of other intangibles. Where I've gotten myself in trouble is that I often go against my better judgment and pick the upset. In the case of Kirkland, I don't find my assessment special, but I do think it was in the minority for the simple fact that I don't believe in getting caught up in the hype element. Everyone else is looking at this guy with power knocking people out. To me, it all came down to seeing him wobbled against much lesser opposition and knowing that he'd be standing in front of a man with enough experience and durability to exploit that.
In the case of Morales, nobody in a million years gave the guy a chance, but I saw this to be a very easy call for the simple fact that you can never count out a durable fighter who possess a strong set of skills who stands in the face of a slugger. Think about what I just said....."a durable fighter who possess strong skills in the face of a slugger". Maidana on his best days will never possess the pure fundamental skills of a Morales on his worst. Never! And knowing this gave me a comfort zone because again, not only did I remove myself from the hype element, but I also knew that every time he slung those wild looping shots and missed, he'd be greatly open to precision punches down the pike, which hurt the most!
During the fight there were times when Morales looked to be in peak form and he sent jabs down the pike on a frozen rope like a laser beam, hurting Maidana and stripping him of his confidence. Many don't understand why I fancy fundamental skills above all else, but this was a classic example where they allow an aged fighter to look like a million bucks, and he did all this with one eye closed. I think you have to admire his spirit and that's why if he hangs up the gloves right now he'd have a cemented space the sports Hall of Fame.
To close out this question, I'd like to say that of all the odd predictions I've made which came to fruition, there's two others that have me extremely curious to see if they will actually pan out, because if they do, we're all in for a huge surprise! One was that 2011 will be the year of shocks and upsets in the sport. So far, this one is making me look Nostradamus-like! Lemieux, Kirkland, Maidana/Morales......so many other options on the table and so much time to see them unfold. The other was that November 2011 the world will finally get to see Mayweather/Pacquiao. If this happens that means we can count one shocker out (Mosley defeating Pacquiao), but we'll be gaining another one! Stay tuned.
Alex N. (Chicago, IL): Adamek looked pretty good against McBride. How would you assess his shot against Vitali now that it appears we'll see that fight this Fall?
Vivek W. (ESB): I don't give him much of a shot at all. That's just putting it bluntly. I like Adamek, I like what he brings to the sport, but he simply doesn't have the size, power, or ability to keep the iron-fist of Vitali off him and there's nothing he could land (the few times that he will) that would actually hurt Vitali. I like that he's getting his chance, he deserves it, but the fight won't go 8 rounds. McBride is far from Vitali. Similarities come by way of height only.
Even if Vitali shows tremendous age, he'd still bring too much to the table to add on top of his size and power differential. Again......short night. It won't go the distance. And that's coming from a man who has totally supported Adamek. I hope he can add his name to that "shocker" list I spoke of earlier, but I have greater chances of hitting the lottery with those numbers I've played for the past 7 years!
Ramon R. (Phoenix, AZ): What did you think about Robert Guerrero's victory over Katsidis last Saturday night, in terms of how far he could go in the sport?
Vivek W. (ESB): I was very impressed with Guerrero. More so than any time in the past, to be honest. I'm happy that things with his wife have improved by the grace of God, and I think in many ways what we're seeing now could be a man entering the ring with less mental stress and more mental focus. He put together a very good fight and seemed primed for a victory at all cost. I really thought that he gave a great effort, but as many out there know, I'm not one to "swing on the pendulum" either. As great as Guerrero looked, there's clearly room for improvement.
The biggest element to exploit for future opponents is clearly the body. Those body shots took the steam out of him like an iron without water! I think he would have major issues against some of the body bangers in the sport, definitely if he goes up in weight. This is something that he and his training team need to figure out ways to counter or/and defend against. If not, things could sour fast. As far as where he will ultimately go in the sport, I think a few minor adjustments and the sky is the limit. Personally, I'd like to see him enter the 140lb mix. I think he'd be an interesting addition to Khan, Bradley, Judah, and company. Stay tuned!
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEKWALLACE747), Skype (VITO-BOXING), and Facebook).
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