'The Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Q&A Mailbag Featuring Klitschko, Toney, Pavlik, Williams, Chavez Jr., and More!

klitschkoIn this weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' installment we take a look at a few fighters that have rarely made the mailbag. With the sports heavyweight division as thin as we've ever seen it, we field questions on the man listed as the weight class front runner, as well as a potential 'dark-horse' in the race with a very familiar name. Aside from that, we take a look at the Pavlik/Williams showdown which is tentatively set, as well as the son of a Mexican legend who finds himself in the midst of a very shaken world. With no further ado, we take this weeks first question from a huge fight fan on the west coast....

Mark J. (Oakland, CA): With Wladimir Klitschko considered the Heavyweight front-runner, what are your thoughts on his performance last Saturday?

Vivek W. (ESB): Honestly Mark, my take on this recent performance by Wladimir Klitschko is probably one that most will say isn't too popular, but truth be known, it echoes the sentiments of a no longer silent majority around the sport.. This is now the third consecutive fight where I think Klitschko looked out of sorts and fundamentally far from sound. I think as a person, he's one of the most intelligent men to ever fight, but maybe that same genius is responsible for making him think a bit too much in the heat of the battle. With his height, reach, brute strength, and other assets, why this guy isn't the best thing in the division since a young Mike Tyson is beyond me! And as much as I hate to go here, despite me defending Lampley and the HBO group relative to the statements made by Mayweather and Wright, listening to them hype Klitschko in this fight made me feel somewhat different. I think he looked absolutely terrible - even in victory - and I think they made him look far better than he actually did. Don't take my word for it, just review the tape and you will see the same sequence throughout the whole fight...punch, punch, hold...punch, punch, hold. I mean this in no disrespect because I really think Wladimir is a classy guy, but in the ring, it simply isn't translating to the kind of performance you'd expect from a guy with his tools which is why I have a problem with the 'mythical' pound for pound stuff. James Toney, with or without the extra weight, has consistently shown more fundamental skill than this from day one, yet he was never really mentioned as part of that group because he's not a flavor of the month. Clearly a political bias if I've ever seen one.

Brett Walker (Norfolk, VA): Do you think that Antonio Tarver has a shot at defeating Chad Dawson in their scheduled showdown in October?

Vivek W. (ESB): There's still a great deal of fight footage on both guys that I'd like to analyze before making a final prediction on this fight but judging by what I gauge in various fight fans, the jury is still out on Tarver relative to his true greatness. Yeah, he KO'd Roy Jones Jr, and also defeated Glen Johnson, but I think he's been vastly different since he was man-handled by Bernard Hopkins. This isn't to slight him, as few have been able to defeat Hopkins. But despite Tarver's victory over what appeared to be a very out-of-sorts Clinton Woods, I just don't think the guy has been the same. Some are gonna point to the Dawson/Johnson fight and argue that if Johnson nearly got Dawson, a younger Tarver will beat him, but I don't subscribe to that theory due to the fact that Tarver is not the kinda fighter that Johnson is, and we all know that styles make fights. Johnson took the fight to Dawson in a sustained Antonio Margarito-like workmanship effort. Tarver is not that kinda fighter, and he won't sustain that type of punch output, or attempt to take that much of a beating in return; Which means that Dawson will not only be prepared for that effort after previously coming close to defeat, but he will also be fresher down the stretch as a result of less activity by Tarver compared to that of Johnson. I think Tarver certainly has the tools to win this fight, but if I was a betting man, it would be hard not to put my money on the younger fighter coming in with a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove.

Marcus Wimbley (Chicago, IL): What do you think the future holds for James Toney if he is impressive against Hasim Rahman?

Vivek W. (ESB): With the Heavyweight division as thin as it is right now, I think an in-shape and healthy James Toney could be the pick of the litter. Easy. Not one Heavyweight in the division - (to include David Haye) - has the fundamental skills and pure 'know-how' ring intelligence of James Toney. The fat and out of shape Toney that we saw in the initial fight against Samuel Peter was still conditioned enough to wiggle his way out of harms way and make a fight against a very formidable opponent worth watching so if he has trimmed down and has even half of his mobility back, there's no question to me that a 'Four-Fries-From-Fat' version would still be crafty enough to pick apart anyone in the division. No one expects him to be 'high-school skinny', but this is one guy that doesn't have to be. The one thing about Toney that separates him from the Mayweather's of the world is the fact that along with a very elusive defense, he keeps his offense in constant motion and is always looking to inflict pain. James Toney is easily one of the best fundamental tacticians in the history of the sport and this was evidenced by Roy Jones Jr. recently stating that he was "by far" the most difficult fighter that he had ever faced. In an era where mythical titles get stacked on certain fighters like pancakes, Toney is truly deserving of such accolades and if his body can hold up, who knows?, he may soon give us all a reason to honor him with such acclaim.

Rob Jacobson (Daytona Beach, Florida): Do you see Paul Williams as a true threat to Kelly Pavlik?

Vivek W. (ESB): This is a fight that I've mulled over time and time again ever since the possibility was presented and it's just a very tough fight to analyze due to the fact that none of us know what to expect from Williams as a middleweight. We've seen Pavlik absolutely destroy middleweights with proven chins such as Miranda and Taylor, so it's easy to ponder the question of "what can Williams do that will result in a different outcome"? Truth is, as it stands, Williams started his career as a middleweight, and to date, has a record of approximately 15-0, (all coming by way of knockouts) against opponents he fought above the welterweight division. So whether or not he can perform on that level is not the question, the question is whether or not he can perform on that level against the best individual that resides within. One major challenge for Pavlik is gonna be Williams' work rate. I don't know that Williams will have the power to really stun or hurt Pavlik, but his sustained work rate is certainly gonna give him the edge if the fight does somehow go to the scorecards. I would have much rather seen Winky Wright get the nod against pavlik, but Williams presents a different challenge and I think the fans will be pleased with the final product, and possibly surprised. Williams took everything Margarito had for 12 full rounds and was never deterred from standing directly in his face, so I'm sure he'll go in this fight in the same attack-mode. To answer your question, yes, I think me, you, and anyone who knows boxing has to view Williams as a viable threat to Pavlik.

Henry Isidro (West Covina, CA): What are your thoughts on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and his future?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think that if this kid were not a Chavez, we wouldn't be talking about him. His Father is highly respectable and don't get me wrong, as an up and coming talent, to an extent so is he, but I just think that he has nearly capped out his best potential and after the highly questionable victory he got last Saturday, no judge in their right mind will give him the benefit of the doubt any time soon which means that things could get real bad real fast. The expectations on him are - (and were from the very beginning) - way too high and we've all learned at some point or another that pressure burst pipes. We saw his raw emotions take over after the recent debacle which left him threatening to retire. Since then he's gone on record saying that he's basically moving forward with his career and he would entertain a fight with Mora or possibly Forrest or one of the other prominent jr. middleweights. I think basically any fight in the top 5 of the respective divisions within the jr. middleweight ranks would yield results that would quickly show his true worth. The outside perspective here is that the kid has been gingerly brought along with strategic matchmaking based on some huge fear of him losing a fight. Trouble is, unless Marciano has made a second-coming, just about every other fighter out there has had to suffer the agony of defeat and prove their mettle by stepping up when they've been previously beat down so I think if more emphasis from his management was placed on his true evolution as a fighter and not some fairy tale prowess that would crown him the Mexican heir apparent, he would be able to enjoy his career without the unnecessary pressure of carrying a storied nation who needs no hero in the world of boxing.

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Article posted on 16.07.2008

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