'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Mayweather/Ortiz, Gamboa, Vitali-K/Adamek, and Dawson!
Chali B. (Miami Lakes, FL): I think Yuriorkis Gamboa is one of the most electrifying newcomers on the fight scene today. How did you rate his performance and how do you see him turning out as a pro?
Article posted on 12.09.2011
Vivek W. (ESB): There were many in the media who apparently felt Gamboa's performance was marginal at best. I guess I fall in that other bracket! In my opinion, I thought his performance was everything I personally want to see in a fighter on the rise. I think when you look at things in totality, perhaps there's room for improvement. There is in every fighter. But what I love about Gamboa at this stage is the fact that I can remember seeing him about 5, 6 fights ago, and making mental notes of things I'd like to see him improve on, and it's like he had a list, and each of those fights he steadily checked them off one by one.. During the telecast Emmanuel Steward stated in so many words that Gamboa's balance and footwork was little short of perfect, and just a few fights ago that was a critical point of contention for every fight fan that viewed him.
Whether you like him or not, I think you have to respect the fact that between every fight over the last few ring appearances, the guy has gone back to the lab, tweaked his performance and made himself better. And not only that, but he continues to get better. His confidence is growing and ability is increasing. As far as how his career will go, I'm not too sure any of us can forecast that at this early stage, but I can say this........no matter who the top fighters in the sport are at the time, his name will be some where in the equation, and it'll be clear at the top of the division in whatever division he resides at the time. Some say that he was ridiculous for calling out Pacquiao after the fight. My thoughts on that one is basically the following:
I love his courage and I love his heart. No......he may not be ready for Pacquiao, but you could effectively argue that Khan is no more ready for Mayweather, yet we continue to hear these things about them two getting it on. The difference in this case, as much as I like Khan, Khan is saying "I'll be ready for Mayweather in another year or so", wherein I firmly believe Gamboa would face Pacquaio next week if the chance presented itself. This isn't a swipe at Khan. This is a testament to Gamboa. And another reason why those who have been critical of him should be more supportive of him.
Matthew R. (Charlotte, NC): The odds for Mayweather/Ortiz continue to soar (now at 12:1) but the more I see HBO's 24/7 clip the more I realize this is gonna be a good fight and Ortiz has a chance at scoring the upset. Do you think his chances to win are as low as the odds predict? Or do you think he has a better chance at an upset than many think?
Vivek W. (ESB): Some in the media will say that this is an "easy night" for Floyd and that he "cherry-picked" another opponent, but I've always said and will continue to maintain that this will be a very difficult night for him, and yes, there is a major chance that we could see an upset happen. Floyd Mayweather Snr. probably isn't a great person to quote when talking about Floyd Jr., but something he said continues to capture my attention and with his strong boxing knowledge, I think he's a great source to speak on it. A few months ago he was quoted as stating that basically "reflexes are the one thing you don't know you've lost until you've gotten in a situation and realized you 've lost them". This happened to Roy Jones jr. (at the same age). It happened to many others around this time. And those men weren't coming off 16month layoffs.
It should be duly noted that Mayweather has fought only a few times in the past 3 years or so, and as great as he is fundamentally, one day, every rising sun must fall from the sky, replaced by sudden darkness. Will this be his night? No one can say for sure, but it can be said it will as much as it can be said that it won't. It's a 50/50. It really is. Freddie Roach stated in the aftermath of the Mosley fight that he felt Mayweather "doesn't have his legs anymore". Mayweather stated that he does, he simply abandoned them to give the fight fans more of what they want to see. Against Ortiz, he may need them, because there's a side of me that thinks he'd be committing suicide to stand right in front of him. All that was said to say this:
We'll find out soon enough whether or not Mayweather "has no legs" or Ortiz "has no heart". So many things have been said about both men and both are acutely aware of what they're up against. At this point, we're days away from a showdown between the two and from every visual on record, neither plans to lay down. Can Mayweather take his first loss this coming Saturday night? You're damn right! Can Ortiz shock the world? Mos def! Anything is possible when two men step in that ring.
That being said, we need to remember how dangerous this fight is and be ready to applaud the victory of whomever wins. If Ortiz gets the job done, we need to credit him as such. If Mayweather goes in there and makes it look easy like he has a habit of doing, we need to once again credit him for his superb skills, because on this level, nothing less will get him through this test. Stay tuned.
Alex H. (Los Angeles, CA): I know you predicted Adamek would fall in 9rds, but he was able to last longer. Do you think it says something that he failed to get such a smaller fighter out of there earlier?
Vivek W. (ESB): In a sense some can argue that it does, when you consider that much bigger men have fallen much quicker against him, but truthfully, perhaps you just have to say it's a testament to the will of Adamek. Honestly, if Haye had Adamek's toughness and heart, the heavyweight division would probably look a lot different right now. You have to truly appreciate the toughness in which Adamek showed. He didn't come to lay down and he actually made a few moments in the fight pretty interesting. Vitali did what Vitali does. Dominate! He used his length, he used his reach, he used his size, and all his other attributes. I don't think the fact that he failed to pull the curtains sooner should take away from his overall worth. Some bigger fighters were taken out quicker, but not all of them were as good as Adamek either.
At the end of the day, I think it's best to limit the micro-analysis and take things for what they are. Bottomline: These K-Bros are by far the most dominant boxers in the sport today outside of Mayweather and Pacquiao. They may not get their due by the average fan, but until someone comes along who can uproot their greatness, expect to see them planted firmly in the middle of the heavyweight landscape, and in effect, perhaps even the historical landscape. It is what it is.
Marcus B. (New York City): How do you think Dawson's decision to walk away from Steward this close to the Hopkins fight will impact his performance?
Vivek W. (ESB): Short answer: IN A MAJOR WAY. To elaborate on this a little, there's no way in the world any fighter on the elite level of the sport makes a decision like this, this close to a mega fight and no see some type of impact. I have always tried to support Dawson, but along the way, circumstance gave me reason to question him. This latest move pretty much confirmed every suspicion I had about him previously. Something is missing. When you look at the laundry list of trainers who have tried to work with Dawson, there just comes a point where you have to ask yourself who's the one with the problem here, and unfortunately, it appears to be him.
I can think of atleast 3 men he's worked with that would have been very beneficial for him on this level, yet he found a reason to part with each of them, and still continues to present the same flaws that each of them attempted to cure. Again, something isn't right there. I just can't find any logic to support this action and it tells me that yet another great trainer lost in his effort to fix a man who simply not be fixable. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised at this point if Dawson reported an injury from camp and the flatlined the entire fight. Nothing surprises me any more from him and it's sad to say because the guy could be one of the best. I'll go out on a limb and say talent wise, he is one of the best. Unfortunately, in this sport, like life alone, talent alone may not always be enough. I'll be very interested to see what he does come October. Stay tuned.
(Vivek "Vito" Wallace can be reached at email@example.com, Youtube (Vivek1251), Twitter (VivekWallace747), Skype (Vito-Boxing), and Facebook).
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