Boxing

The 'Left-Hook Lounge: Vivek Wallace's Q&A Session Featuring Calzaghe, Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr., Trinidad, and Pacquiao

calzaghe hopkins boxingNow that Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe have finally settled the "Battle of the Planet", fight fans around boxing can not only reflect on the past, but also welcome the future as the sports ever changing landscape continues to shift. This was never more present than in the questions posed in todays Left-Hook Lounge Q&A session where a few of those fans felt a need to not only reflect on the Calzaghe/Hopkins matchup, but also contemplate what the future may hold for the two legends relative to another one who lurks in the backdrop awaiting his chance to solidify a legacy that in the mind of most has already been fulfilled. That other legend being the always dangerous Roy Jones Jr. So, with no stones left unturned, we take a peak at the fight games new 'buzz' topics of the day.......

Q: Ryan S. (Delray Beach, Fl): Joe Calzaghe didn't look great but he got the win. What was your thoughts on his United States debut and what do you think of a proposed fight with Roy Jones Jr.?

A: Vivek W.: I'll start by saying that based on a few things coming from the Calzaghe fight camp leading up to the fight I thought (and wrongly predicted) that Calzaghe would leave the U.S. with his first loss. After the first round I think it became evident that one of two things, if not both were very obvious. 1. The heart that Calzaghe has always shown was indeed no fluke, and 2. It appears that the legendary Bernard Hopkins has finally taken his last sip from the proverbial 'fountain-of-youth'. Most have been very critical of Hopkins' victories in the past because he won most of them in far less than pretty performances, but my view is that he developed his reputation as a future Hall of Famer using that style so if it worked for him for so many years, there's no way that anyone can use the 'ugly performance' argument as an angle to take away from what was easily Calzaghe's most triumphant moment in the ring. Calzaghe fought against a guy whose style can be very slow, overly methodical, and not the most fan-friendly, and still managed to do what he had to do in terms of deciphering that style and making it work for him. Coming into the fight most thought that Calzaghe's work rate would be too much for Hopkins and no matter how we spin it, in the end, that was exactly what it was. Now that he has conquered that mountain, the possibility of a Fall showdown with Roy Jones Jr. is being discussed and personally, I think despite the fight being a decade late, it still has great appeal. I think Roy Jones Jr. showed us all in his recent fight against Felix Trinidad that his speed is still there, and one thing for sure, you can count on him doing far more than Hopkins did from the beginning to the end. There are two motivating factors for Jones that I think make this a very appealing fight. Coming off of the losses a few years ago, he is looking for a permenant, indelible way to indent his name in the minds of fans globally, and he can not only achieve that with a win over Calzaghe, but if the fight takes place in Cardiff, Wales, he can also erase the pain associated with a loss in the Olympics that made him vow to never fight overseas again. These two reasons add total effect to the term "kill two birds with one stone", because in one night Jones can receive total vindication for all that's ever gone wrong in his career. Talks have now shifted to the showdown bringing Calzaghe back to Las Vegas, but even so, I think more than enough motivation would be there for Jones. The only issue to contend with is the money, for we all know that Jones has been tough to negotiate with in the past and Calzaghe Promoter Frank Warren has made it very clear that it'll be done on Calzaghe's terms, which includes a purse that will net him no less than $10M dollars. Hopefully they can hash it out and show us all what both of these guys have in the tank.

Q: Roger M. (Bronx, NY): Joe Calzaghe admitted that he landed low-blows against Hopkins in the fight. Miguel Cotto has done this in the past as well. What do you think about this unfair advantage?

A: Vivek W: For starters, after hearing Calzaghe admit this publically, I didn't know if he deserved a pat on the back or a kick in the rump. I can remember Miguel Cotto also stating when asked about this tactic that sometimes a fighter has to "do what he has to do". Personally, it's one thing to retaliate against an opponent in the ring, but to initiate this action to get a breather or create some space I find a bit cowardly. This is a part of the sport that I think should be addressed and dealt with on a very severe level because no matter how anyone wants to dice it up, when you spit it out it's still cheating. Due to the unfortunate outcome few boxing scribes ever admit it, but head-butts and elbows from another sometimes-dirty fighter (Evander Holyfield) that went overlooked by referee Mills lane was indeed the reason for "Iron" Mike Tyson's ring rage, resulting in the infamous 'Bite-Night' fight where he bit a piece of Holyfields ear off. Thank God that others in the past who dealt with this didn't get that drastic, but that's a sure-fire way to set off a fighter who isn't mentally balanced during a fight. It's not uncommon for punches to slide low from time to time but now knowing that one of the poorly placed punches were deliberate, I have to wonder if any of the others by Calzaghe were as well. Hopkins was no angel in the fight either, but between the holding behind the head and the low blows, I think Calzaghe definitely proved that he will cross certain boundaries when the thought of defeat sets in as well. At the end of the day, it's a tactic that fighters have used for years, it didn't just start and chances are that it won't suddenly end. When it all boils down, it takes discipline to overcome those kind of tactics and still be the last man standing.

Q: Frederico Martinez (Old San Juan, PR): Felix Trinidad is rumored to be fighting Jermain Taylor or Bernard Hopkins, what do you think of him currently and his chances of becoming champ again?

A: Vivek W: Felix 'Tito' Trinidad is iconic in my family, and as great as Miguel Cotto is, there's a wide contingent internationally that still feel he's the 'man' when you talk Puerto Rican boxers. That being said, his legacy has faded more and more with each of his last few fights based on what is widely viewed as subpar performances. Against Winky Wright he could barely land a punch, and against Roy Jones Jr., while he did look better, he simply didn't do enough to rekindle that flame of the past. I think if Trinidad actually decided whether or not he wants to continue his career and be a real contender he could do some significant damage; That being said, I think he has returned to the ring against opposition that would land him big paydays but not necessarily equal chances at winning far too often lately. Rumors on the island of Puerto Rico at one point were spreading that there were money issues in the Trinidad camp. I would find that very hard to believe, but his recent actions in some ways support that talk. I don't know what the true motivation is for Trinidad and his on again - off again career is, but I don't see either of those fights being good for him. Jermain Taylor has enough of a chin and enough speed to turn a potential showdown with Tito into another Roy Jones type fight, and Hopkins, aged and all, is still a bit too savvy for a fighter like Tito that comes straight forward. The other name I've heard in the mix for Trinidad is Kelly Pavlik. That's a fight that I'd like to see because it gives Trinidad a target that is fairly stationary that won't require him to chase and will bring the fight back to him as well. Unfortunately, I don't see Trinidad as the clear and decisive winner there either, but based on styles, I think that one gives the fans the best glimpse at what they'd probably like to see. It appears that Trinidad is on par to face off against Taylor with Hopkins threatning retirement, but final word should be coming from the Don King camp within the week. Stay tuned.

Q: Michael Ormand (Santa Monica, CA): Why isn't anyone mentioning Antonio Tarver as a possible foe for Joe Calzaghe?

A: Vivek W: The same issue that plagues Winky Wright and Antonio Margarito plagues Antonio Tarver. That issue being high risk, low reward. Despite Tarver defeating Johnson and Jones, it's safe to say that there's been no true appeal associated with his name aside from those victories. In conversation with a fight fan recently I heard many arguments about Tarver making a reputation by defeating the elders in his division. I never really viewed it that way, but when you consider the truly big names on his resume', it's fairly visible that this point is in many ways valid; Glen Johnson (39), Roy Jones Jr (formidable, yet still 39), Clinton Woods (A shop-worn 35). Upon further review, I realized that no fighter that Tarver has faced since the year 2000 - with the exception of Elvir Muriqi - was younger than 35, but then again, neither is Calzaghe so technically I think that he should be given a shot. Chances are, as much as he may deserve that shot, he's in a race against time and if the 'moneybag' isn't big enough, I'm afraid that Calzaghe won't have the time. Calzaghe has made it clear that he has one more mega fight left in him and the money associated with Roy Jones Jr. far outweighs that associated with Tarver, Dawson, or any of the other fighters out there who would like to get a crack at the "Pride of Wales". It's unfortunate, but the politics in this sport will never quite fade away. It simply is what it is.

Q: Jose M. (Orlando, Fl): Do you think that Pacquiao will face Hatton? If so, who wins?

A: Vivek W.: It seems that Pacquiao is being paired with everyone as a potential foe now days. Ever since the Marquez fight I've heard everyone from Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz, to Oscar Dela Hoya, to Joel Casamayor, to Nate Campbell, and now to Ricky Hatton. Soon some wierdo's gonna ask him to take on David Haye! For starters, Pacquiao needs to get past David Diaz. Once he gets that done, the sky is the limit. The good thing about Pacquiao is the fact that no matter who they've put in front of him, he's won, albeit not always decisively. Realistically, Pacquiao will probably take on the fighter that stands out most to the fans. That would currently point to Ricky Hatton. For those out there that say Pac-Man is too small, let me remind you that Pacquiao entered the ring on fight night against Marquez weighing in at 146 and didn't look bad. If he can go a full camp energized from not having to starve himself to make weight, I think he makes for a very entertaining fight against Hatton. Neither one of those guys fight going backwards so it'll be quite interesting to see, and I'm sure, eventually the fight will be made. Both Pacquiao and Hatton have fights coming up, but it's totally conceivable that by the fall we could see these two square off, and Arum has stated that he wouldn't rule out the possibility of taking the fight to the U.K. That fight would be 'fire', and even though seeing Pac-Man against a few of the other guys would be nice, this is the fight that makes the most sense. Who wins? The little guy......I find that a fitting way to put it because either man can take that one. (Smiles) Can you say 'Bombs Away'!

(Got Questions or Feedback? Write ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexemail@yahoo.com or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)

Article posted on 23.04.2008



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