'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Kirkland/Angulo, Martinez, Mayweather/Pacquiao, and Much More!!!
Aaron H. (Dallas, TX): Going into the Kirkland/Angulo fight you predicted a "Fight of the Year", but you also predicted an Angulo victory. What are your thoughts regarding Kirkland's victory and who would you like to see him face next?
Article posted on 07.11.2011
Vivek W. (ESB): I thought that particular fight displayed more of what we fight fans and media crave in the sport than I've seen in quite some time. It was an absolutely phenomenal fight and there's no way in hell anyone walked away disappointed, even those who supported Angulo. Coming into the fight, I just felt like we've seen more durability from Angulo over the stretch of their careers, as Kirkland has been buzzed quite a few times, even prior to the Ishida loss. Perhaps I, like many others, didn't quite take into consideration the Wolfe addition back to the fold, and truthfully, it made all the difference. The tandem proved a very deadly duo, and as great as Nacho Beristan is, the one thing his man needed the most was the one thing Wolfe preaches and the one thing that literally gave Kirkland the nod: Conditioning!
It was a rare scenario in the sport where both men walked away victorious, and both will see their stock rise. On a more technical level, what surprised me most about Kirkland was the fact that he seemed far more complete to me than I felt he could be. Few talked about his defense in the aftermath, but his ability to slip punches and followup with a well placed counter, alternate protection on both sides (using his glove to pick off shots), and even the Tyson like bob-and-weave to get inside was just as effective as his stamina. I thought Kirkland executed a very sound gameplan and his ability to think in the trenches made me very proud of him, considering that this was a man many of us thought we would never see at the pinnacle of the sport again.
We have to also give major props to Ann Wolfe who proved her worth in many ways. I've always been huge on the little things that go unnoticed, and two things she did during the fight really impressed me. When Kirkland was buzzed in the first and had appeared to let emotions get the best of him, she (as a naturally aggressive person), took a more relaxed approach to getting him back under control, and when it happened later in the fight, despite the poor audio, you could see him smile with that patented "I'm OK, coach, sorry for forgetting what you just told me but I'll remember this time" approach. It was a great moment in the life of a tandem that understands fully how important it is to execute with peace of mind and pure havoc of the hands. Truly brilliant, and the tears she shed after the fight provided what I interpreted as both closure, as well as official triumph beyond the pain that remains from an untold story (the split between the two).
Who would I like to see him face next? Canelo would be a GREAT FIGHT, but Goldenboy Promotions owns the rights to both men and they aren't gonna put them on a collision course against one another when they can secure very good fights for both against others. I would love to see Kirkland face several guys. On the shortlist: Cotto or Margarito (winner of the two), Sergio Martinez, or Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. Any of those four fights would be a helluva place to start in my book, but Martinez would be a helluva barometer for both men. Stay tuned.
Jackson H. (Atlanta, GA): Many fight fans talk about great trainers but I've always felt that most trainers success comes from their ability to mesh with the guy their training. Ann Wolfe impressed me with her ability to prepare (mentally and physically) James Kirkland. Which fighters in the sport would you like to see her work with?
Vivek W. (ESB): I had this same conversation with a number of FaceBook fight fans after the victory and there's a ton of fighters I think would benefit from a trainer like Wolfe. As fight fans and media, there's a number of fighters around the sport that we love to watch who show a great set of baseline skills or ability, yet somehow can't quite get to that level we all seem to think they should be capable of and it all starts with those elements that seem to come naturally to her: Heart, passion, intelligent aggression, and to keep it real simple, just a natural desire to kick ass!
Among that list of guys with those baseline skills who can't quite seem to get to the "goal", or atleast hasn't reached that one level we think they're capable of would be Miguel Cotto, Paul Williams, David Haye, Chris Arreola, JuanMa, Zab Judah, Andre Berto, Devon Alexander, Joshua Clottey, Andre Dirrell, Jean Pascal, Chad Dawson, Chavez Jr. and even Timothy Bradley. Each of these men possess natural elements within their personal makeup that make them contenders and in some cases, even borderline elite, yet lack either or all of the toughness, aggression and conditioning that she would hand to them like they've never received before from a trainer before. A trainer cut from her cloth - in my estimation - would make any of these guys beyond dangerous and world class elite if paired with the attributes they already possess.
An Ann Wolfe training camp is unlike anything most of these men have ever encountered, and the mental warfare she uses would serve them all well in the heat of the battle when the rounds start flying down range. Mike Tyson, Mayweather, Pacquiao, Leonard, Calzaghe, and several other greats all said at some point in their career that (para-phrased) "the real battle is won in the gym". In an Ann Wolfe camp, customarily known to take place in a setting most would be afraid to walk past in the dark, there's no way in hell the light of morning would come where any of these men would take a dance under the bright lights for granted, as opportunities lost are often opportunities that never return --- ie. Wladimir Klitschko (Haye), Vitali Klitschko (Arreola), Khan (Judah), Pacquiao (Clottey), Bradley (Alexander), Froch (Dirrell), Martinez (Williams), and the list goes on. Yes! She could do each of these men good, but NO, unfortunately she'll probably never receive the chance.
Jazz (NYC): Team Mayweather has come out and flat out said that they want to make the "biggest fight" to be made in the sport after Arum says openly that Pacquiao has been OK with full randomized testing. Now suddenly Arum is stating the Mayweather and his team are trying to dictate venue because they reserved the MGM Grand, and that they're doing this and that. I never liked your position but I'm starting to truly feel that Arum and/or Team Pacquiao are the ones who don't want this fight. What are your thoughts about this trash?
Vivek W. (ESB): The drug issue has been made to be the main plot, but their are so many subplots lying under the radar that honestly, it just all stinks. Questionable feats have made some look at Pacquiao and question "how so"?, but beyond that lies a ton of other questions and every time Arum acts the way he did recently, it just reminds me that we may in fact NEVER see this fight take place. If Arum and Team Pacquiao truly wanted this fight, they would have responded quite differently. Instead we got another conditional agreement that says a bunch of things that still don't add up. For starters, Arum is still speaking of the fact that Pacquiao will need to be able to do a great deal of his training in the Philippines, making this an issue that creates a wedge in how the testing is done and run.
How is this even an issue when Pacquiao's own trainer, Freddie Roach has practically begged him to train in the U.S. for the full camp to cut back on distractions for literally all of their mega-fights? Then there's the issue surrounding the cutoff point, then there's this, then there's that! Bottomline, Arum and his fighters camp has not accepted the terms of this fight unconditionally, and that's not to say that they should, but it is to say that they all need to stop telling fans they have, because they haven't. Not even close. People continue to say that Mayweather doesn't want the fight. I won't say he definitively say he does, but there's one way to find out: Accept the given terms of the fight and start training. Period. Until they do this, I maintain my position that both men are at fault, not just the one fans love to hate.
(Vivek "Vito" Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954.292.7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VivekWallace747), Skype (Vito-Boxing), & FaceBook).
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