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Left-Hook Lounge: Rigondeaux/HBO, Matthysse/Garcia, & Ward/Golovkin!

rigondeaux55Mario R. (Atlanta, GA): HBO put pressure on Arum to make the Donaire/Rigondeaux fight, but have somewhat distanced themselves from Rigondeaux after he defeated the fighter they strongly supported? I know this is a sensitive issue, but would you attribute this to race, considering how difficult it has been to promote certain fighters?

Vivek W. (ESB): Looking at this issue from 10,000ft, I think some would say it’s probably a mere coincidence. When we dig beneath the surface of this situation and get to the core, without doubt we have to acknowledge that this is a business, and investments have to be made in any business. When these networks have to shell out big dollars to put on a show, they’re going to make sure that investment is well spent.

In the case of Rigondeaux, I think we have to realize that although he’s a Latin fighter, he’s a Cuban fighter. Cuban fighters don’t bring the same level of fan fare and fan buzz as most Latino fighters.

In terms of money generated, it’s safe to say they (Cubano’s) bring in the least of Latino fighters; as Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Argentinean’s, and even the lesser celebrated Dominican’s of the sport have far greater followings. So I think anyone looking at this logically can’t deny that there’s a fiscal concern on behalf of HBO. One totally stimulated by his ethnic background. You pair that with the fact that he’s more of a fundamental fighter that doesn’t bring the heavy fireworks and you’ve got a recipe for disaster – in terms of their decision to not make him a prime fighter on the network.

When you look at the dynamics behind it, it’s very easy to both see and understand. What’s sad about this is the fact that these are prize fighters. Typically, on this level a fighter is rewarded for solid performances. In this case, (which we can no longer view as rare in the sport), we have a fighter being somewhat punished for absolutely embarrassing an opponent stated to be “better”, and “more accomplished”. There’s two angles conspiracy theorist can consider with this position HBO has firmly held to turn their back on Rigondeaux and refuse to showcase him on their network.

The first one is that it is totally fiscal, based on his fighting style and the limited audience he brings. The second is that Donaire and the Filipino fans are an easier base of fans to work with build around for the future. You’d never hear network officials or Arum come out publicly with this sentiment, but it’s born of the same seed that produced Pacquiao for Rios after a loss, rather than Alvarado after conquering him. When networks look for a blueprint for the future, they simply follow the path laid out in the M.A.P. (Money And Politics). That’s what this game and this country is all about!

Carl N. (Brooklyn, NYC): Now that Matthysse vs Garcia is official for the Mayweather/Canleo undercard, how would you break this fight down?

Vivek W. (ESB): As previously stated, this is a fight that I think will tell us as much as we need to know about both fighters by the end of the night. In the case of Matthysse, you have a fighter who has practically put everything he has touched to sleep. The few men who were durable and talented enough to make it to the final bell walked away with victories over him – albeit in a very questionable fashion in both cases. There are still many things we don’t know about Matthysse. Like how he will adapt against a guy that has the power to lay him out.

Garcia has underrated boxing skills and will certainly make for an interesting showdown. But the flipside is that Matthysee has very underrated skills and will press Garcia more than anyone he has faced lately. Unlike Judah, Khan, and the aging Morales, Matthysse aims to seek and destroy. He cuts the ring off and he pursues with great aggression, but most of all, he fights pretty smart. He won’t make himself available for Garcia’s patented big left hook! What this fight will tell us about Garcia is two-fold. How will he adjust to aggressive power puncher with good stamina to be fresh late and the ability to hurt him every step of the way. Also, how much of a punch he can take?

In the end, I think it’ll be a very good fight. I’d love to say that we’ll get 12rds of hardcore action, but the reality is that we simply don’t know. Either man could fall victim to a big shot they never saw coming. And the rest could be history. If I had to put my word on it, my money says that Garcia is the more likely of the two to be stopped. But I don’t his somewhat underrated skills letting him down on the big stage. Regardless of the way it all ends, both men have done enough to ensure that they’ll be back on top, or very close, very soon. I don’t think we’ll hear the famous “E” word (exposed) at the end of the night either way. Even in the event of early stoppage. That being said, I think we’re in for a solid night of action, and this event being on the card certainly helps!

Erik G. (Reseda, CA): Lately, it seems the war of words between Gennady Golovkin and Andre Ward have picked up steam. I’m not sure about the possibilities of this fight happening when you look at politics in the sport, but if they were to face off, how do you see that fight going?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think we’d be in for one helluva treat! When I look at GGG, I see a man who brings an incredible amount of amateur experience, and an incredible amount of success on the pro level. He has dynamite in both hands, he cuts off the ring like no one else in the game today, and he has a greatly underrated ability to out-think his opponents. All that being said, none of the men he has faced thus far could have adequately prepared him for what he’d be up against standing across from Andre Ward. Andre Ward has proven himself not only on the amateur and Olympic level, but as a pro, defeating everyone he has faced, including the best of his era in his respective weight class.

Golovkin has shown us so much, and there’s no reason to think that he couldn’t make this an interesting fight, but Ward is a different level. One thing that makes this an interesting fight to me is the fact that Golovkin was momentarily stunned in his most recent fight. Ward isn’t a power puncher, but he’s a very precise puncher. His power will come at a much different capacity than that of Macklin’s. His ability to in-fight and smother the punches of an opponent would test GGG in a way that we haven’t seen to this point. I really think this would be a dangerous fight for both guys. Golovkin could be outworked and out-smarted by a very solid veteran of high pedigree and success. Ward could be touched with a kiss of death that he didn’t expect to the ribs like Macklin was.

I think both men would have moments of success and extreme moments of risk. We also have to factor in the catchweight scenario. Would Ward be willing to go down a few pounds? Would GGG consider going up? Would GGG’s concession for going up be a voice in a final decision for venue? There are so many things that have to be factored in, aside from the typical politics of the sport that already exist. So we’ll have to see how it all plays out. In the end, we’d get one of the best fights we’ve seen in a while. I say that on the basis that GGG will engage, and as Ward has shown us, although he’s a fundamental fighter, he’s more B-Hop than Mayweather. He’ll sit in the pocket and bang with the best of them. But he’ll exercise sound fundamentals as well. Hopefully we get a chance to find out soon.

(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be heard every Monday night at 9ET/6PT by following this link (www. or calling at 949.943.1665. He can also be reached at [email protected], Twitter (@vivekwallace747), Instagram (ViveksView), and Facebook).

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