'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Pavlik, Cotto/Margarito, E. Steward, & Hopkins/Dawson!!!
Benjamin H. (Chicago, IL): What is your take on the latest drama in the career of Kelly Pavlik? I think this kid has ruined what could have been a very good career and could be out of the sport for good within a year.
Article posted on 09.08.2011
Vivek W. (ESB): I think it's very unfortunate, and to be quite frank, I'm convinced that there's far more than meets the eye. Initially, I took a very strong position against Pavlik because his past reputation precedes him. The staph infection was a valid alibi, but short of that, time and time again we've seen some highly questionable things take place in the world of Kelly Pavlik and each of them have gone a step further in stripping the little reputation he has left. I'll be honest, at a point where the American economy is doing worse than it has in history and the job market is as bad as we've seen it in recent memory, it didn't go over too well in my mind to see a person with a job not only refuse to do it, but subsequently refuse a guaranteed million dollar payday in the process.
Yes, I understand that he would have only made $50K dollars for the fight scheduled for this past Saturday, but walking away from this type of money I rank right up there with Mayweather's $100 burning escapade. Pure ignorance. All of these things made me come out a little strong on Pavlik, but there's two sides to every story and lets just say that I was better served listening to his. After hearing Pavlik's words and considering the source in which he directed them to, I think he may be on to something. During the Mayweather/Pacquiao negotiations I saw Bob Arum do a few things that without doubt left room to question his business practices, and as I look at the history of fighters involved in similar debates under his tutelage, I can't help but to think that perhaps Pavlik's story holds true weight.
According to Pavlik, he wasn't gonna fight for $50K after making far more in the past, and I can't say I totally disagree. In my own personal business practices I've structured certain agreements where they're backloaded, paying the larger sum on the back end, but in this case, it seems Arum didn't voice it that way, and perhaps had no plan to. If Pavlik was telling the truth when he said that he wasn't even given a contract or specific knowledge of the content on the contract until days before the fight, there is a grave issue with a business practice like this and none of us would have taken it either.
In the past we've seen both De La Hoya and Mayweather speak down on the business practices of Arum, we now see Pacquaio hiring an independent firm to do an independent investigation because of this same kind of stuff, and recently, we saw Donaire attempt to bolt the Top Rank stables because of it. Why would we not give Pavlik's words some type of credibility?
When it all comes down, I think it's safe to say the blame probably goes both ways to some degree, and in the case of Pavlik, he's learning another lesson in boxing....Top Rank style. Most boxers are taught to Bob-N-Weave. In this case, he's learning that no Top Rank fighter will ever be comfortable until they learn to master the art of the "Bob-N-Grieve". In other words, come equipped with a manager/financial team who will stay a step ahead of "Bob" (Arum); or agree to grieve from the pain that comes along with being the latest one in the ranks to get bamboozled. It's just that simple.
Hector I. (Miami, FL): Emanuel Steward says he can help Cotto defeat Margarito in their December bout. I know in the past you've stated that you feel it will be a repeat of the initial fight because Margarito will stay on Cotto the same way he did before, but do you think there's any chance Steward actually gets Cotto past the hump.
Vivek W. (ESB): I'll never go on record as saying that Emanuel Steward could not engineer a plan strong enough to pull Cotto to victory, because it would be senseless considering his ability. Not only is he intelligent enough to devise a plan, but he's knowledgeable enough to make certain adjustments throughout the fight that will keep Cotto ahead on the cards. Margarito has one mode: pressure. His plan of attack is always to stay on top of the guy in front of him and to wear him down. Most seem to forget that Cotto was well ahead before he decided to mix it up one too many times, allowing punishing body blows to take a late toll.
Had he simply stayed discipline to his boxing strategy, that was his fight to win. The discipline that had him well ahead on the scorecards that hot Summer night in Vegas won't fade so quickly with Steward in his corner. Steward is a very sound teacher when it comes to the art of discipline. Understanding when to take chances, and/or when to simply stick to the script. One change here may be the fact that Margarito has a much better trainer now then he did before in Garcia, too, though. I think Garcia is far more polished than many seem to give him credit for. That being the case, despite the greatness of Steward, I think it's still a pretty close fight.
Margarito will be entering the ring after an absolute demolition at the hands of Pacquiao, and Cotto will enter the ring after a beating from both men. The losses took place a while back, but the residual damage will take a toll, for one man more than the other. Remains to be seen whom that one man will be. Margarito has yet to test that damaged eye and could pay dearly for doing so against a power-puncher like Cotto. Cotto, on the other hand can be likened to a war veteran who feels fine outside the ills of the battle-field, yet remains one trauma away from an irreversible and potentially career ending psychological tear. So, it'll be a very intriguing match to watch unfold. I like Cotto's chances but wouldn't be surprised to see him get caught up in a dogfight he had no business in.....again. Stay tuned.
Charles B. (Charlotte, NC): How do you see the Hopkins/Dawson fight playing out in October?
Vivek W. (ESB): I like Dawson's ability to box, but what I fear most in him is his heart. Dawson seems to have the same issue fight fans feel men like Judah, Cintron, and a few others have had, in the sense that they bring they're skills with them to the ring because they come fairly natural to them, but the moment they realize the man across from them came to play ball and won't back down so easily, they mail it in! I was very disappointed to see how easily Dawson handed his "O" over to Pascal in Canada when they fought. I just thought he really showed no heart and his performances beyond that fight haven't given me much room to change that opinion.
Where that becomes an issue is that Hopkins is a hunter. He seeks the weak, and pulls the curtain when he knows they're ready to stop fighting. I just think that Hopkins' savvy, combined with his aggressive rugged style may be exactly what the doctor ordered when it comes to slowing Dawson down. I think it will be far more competitive than many think, but I truly feel at the end of the day, Dawson will be intimidated, and/or taken out of his gameplan when Hopkins starts his typical antics, both inside the ring and outside of it leading up to the fight. I'm not a betting man, but I like Hopkins. Then again, Dawson has the skills....if he can summon the heart for this one night of action, he will later realize that he couldn't have chosen a better night, as most of the boxing world will be watching.
(Vivek "Vito" 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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