'The'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Q&A Mailbag featuring Cotto, Margarito, Dawson, Mayweather, and Dela Hoya

cintron margaritoIn only three days from now, fight fans will be treated to a fight aficionado's 'Delight' when HBO and Showtime televise two incredible fight cards that will undoubtedly shape the future of the respective weight divisions. On HBO, the 'Battalion of Young Stallions', better known as the welterweight division, will showcase two champs (Cotto and Cintron), and two opponents (Margarito and Gomez) who could very well use this big stage to prove their mettle. On Showtime, it'll be the young and solid Chad Dawson squaring off against seasoned vet Glen Johnson, while in other action it'll be Clinton Woods against Antonio Tarver.

In this weeks "Left-Hook Lounge" showcase, many of the questions received had to deal with this big fight weekend, and of course there were a few others that couldn't stray away from the 'Money' Mayweather chronicles, being that he's the official 'man' of the welterweight pack. That being said, we'll take a look, like we always do, at the top 5 questions, then in the end let you, the reader, help decide....So here we go.....

Carlito Sanchez (Miami Lakes, Fl): How do you see the HBO fights this weekend turning out, and which fight result do you think could leave fight fans the most shocked?

Vivek W. (ESB): I see the HBO card probably in the same way the masses see it. If I were a betting man, I'd go with Cotto to defeat Gomez; In the co-main event, I see Cintron falling once again to Margarito. Kermit Cintron, (while vastly improved since his lone loss to Margarito), to me still lacks the one trait not even a trainer as great as Emanuel Steward can teach. That trait being heart. Now, this isn't to say that Cintron doesn't have heart, because God knows he was tested by Feliciano a couple months ago; However, I think we can all agree that similar to Zab Judah of a few years ago, when he realizes that his best shots don't do the damage that he feels they should, he (Cintron) seems to quickly lose confidence in himself. That weakness can be a fighters worst enemy against any foe, but when you consider the fact that Cintron has already been knocked out by Margarito, and Margo's lost to Williams has him in the mood to make a statement, and it leaves Cintron with a mountain to climb that at times will appear to be made of ice. Cintron will show improvement and possibly last a round or two longer than the first fight, but make no bones about it, Margo wins this fight. Be it by the KO or by the cards, Margo wins this fight. As far as the Cotto/Gomez fight goes, although I doubt it, if there was any true 'darkhorse' on this fight card, it's Gomez. Cotto is a brilliant fighter who's mettle has been proven time and time again, but there are 3 components to every trap fight and in this Cotto/Gomez fight they all exist. 1. A great fighter (Cotto) against one previously under the radar (Gomez). 2. The great fighter has a fight ALREADY lined up to take place after his perceived easy victory. 3. A 'live' underdog who has a chip on his shoulder and is not a big mouth - leading his much greater opponent to think he's just another face in the crowd looking to make a paycheck - (Remember Douglas/Tyson). I don't see Cotto losing this fight, but if there's any surprise on this fight night, it'll have to be this fight because I don't see Cintron defeating Margarito. Should be a great night of boxing, and I look forward to seeing what Sunday mornings headlines will read.

Tim-Dawg (Liberty City, Fl): Is it true that the Mayweather/Dela Hoya fight is not signed and if not, will the WBC require Mayweather to defend against Miguel Cotto if he wins Saturday night?

Vivek W. (ESB): Various reports have stated - although none to my knowledge officially confirmed - that the fight is still in limbo. The reports started to circulate when Freddie Roach stated about two weeks ago that GBP was having problems getting the contract signed by Floyd and it was possible that Pacquiao could face Oscar. What interest me about that scenario is that of the sources I contacted to get a yea or a nay from, none would confirm or deny the report. That usually means there's truth to it. After all, why go mum if it's a done deal? But anyway, as far as the WBC, and them requiring Floyd to fight Cotto next goes, when you get a thorough understanding of the statues that govern boxing champions and the defenses that they're required to carry out, you realize quickly that anything can happen at any time, and more often than not, it's not always to the benefit of the fight fans. As I reviewed all of the rules governing boxing champs, the WBC - which most consider to be the elite group amongst boxing organizations - had the oddest set of guidelines which stuck out like a sore thumb, and goes a long way in explaining why Floyd has been able to get away with not fighting a true welterweight fighter since becoming welter champ. In order to maintain a WBC strap this organization requires their champs to defend at least twice a year in either a voluntary or mandatory defense in any of the following sequences against any of the following challengers: 1.) A consensus top 10 contender; 2.) A champion or top 10 contender OF ANOTHER WEIGHT CLASS (higher or lower) with a majority vote of Board of Governors (I call this one the Dela Hoya/Hatton 'exception' rule because it has given Floyd the position to legitimately fight these guys without entertaining true welters and still retain his strap); 3.) A former or retired world champion with a majority vote of Board of Governors; 4.) Another boxing organizations champion if recognized by the WBC, upon majority vote of Board of Governors. Now, there are other rules in the mix, but the few just listed lay the blueprint to why a fighter can go so long without feeling the pinch of his organization forcing him to defend against top tier fighters in his own division. This issue is a point of contention with many fans who would like to see Mayweather jr. face off against Cotto, but it also legitimizes his actions and force those in the sports to abandon the politics if they wish to elevate the game. So as far as Floyd being forced to fight Cotto, I don't think that happens under these rules unless someone really wants it to happen. For now, it remains a wish - one that may not come to fruition until some time in '09 at the earliest.

Tom Brady (Ontario, CA): What are your predictions on the Tarver/Woods and Dawson/Johnson fights?

Vivek W. (ESB): For starters Tom, I just wanted to say, if I thought you were the REAL Tom Brady I'd initiate this conversation by asking you to take it easy on my pretty pathetic Miami Dolphins next season, but since I know that you're only the 'bootleg' version, I'll proceed in answering the question. (Smiles). Tarver/Woods I think will be far more entertaining than people are openly saying. The intriguing thing about this fight is that Woods has come on strong lately, improving an already good skillset, and not losing a fight in the last 4 years; while Tarver is coming in off of two losses in his last 6 fights which included a drubbing to Hopkins. Some would see that and say advantage Woods, but at age 39 and facing the westside (the proverbial sunset of ones career), Tarver could actually use this motivation to do something big. If Tarver does have one good fight left in him, it'll be this one, because his still fragile mind and age would be too much to overcome against a young lion lik Dawson. Technically, this Tarver/Woods fight is a pick 'em fight, because I think with the right mindset, either man can get the "W", and they're somewhat evenly matched. The Dawson/Johnson fight I think will be more entertaining than most think as well. Yeah, Johnson is a journeyman, and yeah, Dawson should win this fight, but for some odd reason, I'm beginning to hear the crow sqwakin' somewhere in the background. I wouldn't go out on a limb and call this fight an upset waiting to happen, but if there's cagey veteran out there who could kick it into a new gear in the eleventh hour, it's Glen Johnson. Stranger things have happened, and better things have happened to worst people. I'll be eagerly watching, but don't count on any shockers.

G. Murphy (Atlanta, GA): Is Paul Williams still relevant among welterweights in your opinion?

Vivek W. (ESB): That all comes down to two things, and only those two things. His heart, after being humbled in his last fight. And his ability to overcome the challenge most fighters and people in general face physically, called metabolism. When he was younger, I'm sure it was very easy for him to maintain his fight weight, but as he gets older and continues to develop, his frame will find it harder and harder to avoid filling out, and as a result, he's either gonna be a feather-fisted light-middleweight, or a very weak and fatigued welterweight because it's inevitable that after gaining 17 pounds between weigh-in and fight night against Quintana, he is having weight issues. I think his workrate and chin alone gives him a chance to compete with any fighter, but both are compromised if he has to starve himself to compete. Similarly to Margarito, none of the key welters are gonna take the risk of fighting him in a fight with very little upside, so the chances of him being a welterweight contender again are slim as I see it. He's scheduled to face Quintana again in a June rematch and that fight will make or break him. A win may not catapault him to greener pastures, but a loss will put him somewhere on the outskirts of the sports basement level. Down and out! But we'll have to stay tuned to see for sure.

Carmelo J. (Chicago, IL): How do you rate Miguel Cotto; Strengths, weaknesses, and his chance to one day rule the division.

Vivek W. (ESB): Miguel Cotto is an admirable figure in the welterweight division to me in many ways. Strengths I think is his overall passion for his craft. You can see his desire to succeed and his intensity to propel himself over any given challenge, time and time again. I think for the sport, he's a great guy because he brings a very humble nature - which is an oddity in a very brutal sport. Weaknesses I think is the fact that there are still a few technical flaws for him to iron out. His footwork has gotten better, but he still has a ways to go. He's smart in the ring, but my only question remaining about his ability to take over the welterweight division one day is how will he hold up against a true slick fighter with skills. You look at his victory against guys like Quintana, Mosley, and Judah, and the first thing that comes to mind is that each of those guys are pretty easy to hit targets. Some may disagree, but my response to that would be, how do you account for him knocking out a skilled fighter like Quintana in 5 rounds, and going almost a full 12 with Urkal, a slick fighter with no power and far less talented? That tells me that if a fighter is tough enough to stand in there with Cotto and can avoid his punches enough to tire him out or frustrate him, things could turn out pretty different. So that's the only thing about Cotto that I question, which brings intrigue to a fight with he and Mayweather, perhaps the sports slickest, most skilled fighter. One other thing about Cotto that greatly concerns me is the family feud between he and Uncle Evangelista. Rumors that have swirled for quite a while have recently been confirmed that this is their last partnership together, and it's possible that the new mysterious Florida based trainer that Cotto is going to work with is Buddy McGirt. We see fighters break ranks all the time by going to another trainer and so forth, but does this move ultimately come back to haunt Cotto? There are many things to consider, but as a talent, I don't think anyone can deny him or his status amongst the top tier fighters in the weight class. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the more skilled fighter, but let's call an ace an ace and a spade a spade; Cotto has fought more legitimate welters in his tenure, and one of the current welters who was previously undefeated got his only "L" from Cotto. And that was the same guy who recently dethroned another undefeated fighter who was viewed as the face of tomorrow in the welterweight division, Paul Williams. So respect is due, and hopefully soon enough he'll meet Floyd and put himself in position to remove all doubt.

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Article posted on 10.04.2008

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