The 'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Q&A Mailbag Featuring Margarito, Pavlik, Campbell, Calderon, Clottey, And Many More!!
By Vivek Wallace: This weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' session takes us all over the world of boxing. With things heating up lately in the deep welterweight division, of course our usual suspects - Margarito, Williams, Cotto - all made the cut. Kelly Pavlik, who recently announced a fight with veteran Bernard Hopkins also found his name on the dockett, and in a rarity, one fight fan even went downtown by stooping low, as in visiting the world of the lower weight classes where Campbell/Guzman and Calderon/Cazares are set to take place shortly. Kicking the action off this week is a question from a fight fan in the now NBA basketball-less city of Seattle.......
Article posted on 06.08.2008
Richard S. (Seattle, WA): Joshua Clottey's victory over Zab Judah got him a title, but do you think it gave him better credibility amongst the current welterweights?
Vivek W. (ESB): Personally, I think that Joshua Clottey had great credibility prior to the Judah fight, and despite the fact that there was the whole headbutt drama, (which might I add really was no headbutt at all), I don't think that did anything in anyway to take away from who he is as a fighter. Joshua Clottey is a fighter who - even more so than Miguel Cotto and Margarito - hasn't had the magnetic personality to attract fans by the masses in the non-boxing culture and many people overlook him as a result, but from a tactical and talent standpoint, I don't' think there are too many better fighters in the division. Margarito has seen his stock rise quite a bit lately due to his victory over Cotto, and this is a guy (Clottey) who took Margarito to the max despite having injuries for the last 8 rounds of their fight. On the official scorecards, Margarito won one of the cards by a landslide, but the other two cards were only by margins of four points. Over the course of those last 8 rounds, it's non-disputable that he would have at worst split those rounds. So to answer your question directly, I think he's a very credible fighter with or without the Zab fight. He has great strength in both hands, he's pretty fast with his punches, he comes at you all night long, and to top it all off, we talk about Winky Wright, but this guys defense is just as impenetrable. We saw what Margarito's power did to a very durable Cotto. Had Cotto's defense been half as good, he would have won that fight. If Margarito isn't able to handle Paul Williams, I think based on his chin and persistent 'power-style', Clottey is the only other welterweight that could hold his own in the ring and make it even close as I currently see it. Hopefully that's a fight we'll get to see at some point in the future.
Brik Lopez (Miami Lakes, FL): How do you see the Cazares/Calderon fight sequel playing out this time around?
Vivek W. (ESB): I find Calderon to be one of - if not THE - best pure boxer in the sport in the post Mayweather era. His skills are silky smooth and against a good puncher like Cazares, he's gonna have to be that great to escape a second time. I think both men come into this fight with a better idea of what it's gonna take to prevail compared to the last time because they did it for 12 rounds already. Cazares knows full well that when he applied his great pressure he was able to land the kind of shots that changes fights quickly at some points. Some may say that gives him the edge, but in reality, the exact opposite is the case. It gives a better boxer with natural talent the understanding and intuition (for lack of better words) to 'feel' his way through the on-coming wrath and elude that pressure a bit easier if he comes in on top of his game. Like any other fight, it'll all come down to the man that wants it the most. I think Calderon's conditioning may have been a tad bit better, and he'll need that to get the "W". Despite the knockdown, he was able to gather himself and reapply those silky skills in the first fight. I can't really predict it, but this is a fight that I'm eager to see. Personally, I can't hop on that bird to Puerto Rico soon enough. Few fight fans give these 'pee-wee' fighters the time of day, but in my book, they often give you your money's worth far more.
Matthew B. (Camp Lejeune, NC): With $4M on the table, why are we not scheduled to see the rematch between Antonio Margarito and Paul Williams yet?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think Margarito is a great fighter and a very dangerous one, but that being said, Paul Williams is equally as dangerous in many ways and that's why he's the only man in recent times to defeat Margarito. I don't want to get into the typical fan rhetoric and start tossing around words like scared, and things like that, but let's trace the hints and check the files right quickly. Margarito only got $1.5M to face Cotto in the biggest fight of his career. That was the biggest purse he's ever had a chance to net to date in a single fight. He's being offered more than twice that amount and has chose not to utter a word on the possibility of the fight happening. A few years ago we saw Mayweather turn down a reported $8M to face him, but to Mayweather's credit, he got the same dollar amount elsewhere and ended up defeating the Ring Magazine Linear Champion. I didn't like the move by Mayweather but he was able to effectively - (and truthfully) say that he got the same money and accomplished something somewhat more important because his foe was a more recognized figure - or atleast that was the perception. I say that to say this.....Margarito is a great man, and a greater fighter; I still have much respect for him like I always have, but bottomline, if he isn't getting the mega fight with Oscar Dela Hoya, there's no other fight to make. PERIOD!. A rematch with Clottey is not gonna sell too well - (He only did 1900 people against Judah the other night and has no global appeal) - and not Mosley, or any of the other guys out there bring money like Goosen is providing. I'll defend Margarito to no end because you don't defeat a fighter like Cotto without being somewhat superhuman, but if he doesn't take this fight, I'd probably join the boo-birds and he'd be the next guy on the ropes in my weekly 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment.
Terry Smith (Queens, NYC): At this point, realistically, does Hopkins have any chance against Pavlik?
Vivek W. (ESB): I don't think you can ever truly count out a crafty veteran like Bernard Hopkins. Granted, his style is not always the easiest to watch, but love him or hate him, when he comes with a motive and feels like he has the upper hand, things can change quickly. What I like personally in this matchup is the fact that Pavlik obviously presents himself as a young fighter with booming power and above average stamina, but all that can be nullified by the right guy with a good enough combination of ring smarts, power, and ambition. Now, this isn't necessarily to say that Hopkins is that guy, because according to Freddie Roach, Hopkins is showing some major signs of slowing down, but one thing for sure, Pavlik has NEVER been in the ring with a slick vet like the ones he just signed to get in with. People are quick to point out that Hopkins didn't look too good against Calzaghe, but personally, I had him doing much better on the scorecards than the final analysis reported, and according to some of the emails I've received from fight fans, so did they. Not to take anything away from Calzaghe - he did what he had to do to win - but he's a naturally bigger guy than Pavlik is, and on fight night, actually looked to be the bigger man in the ring with Hopkins. Pavlik, on the other hand has gone up to 164lbs against Taylor, but that was the only time in his career that he went above 160lbs. We know that he's gonna bulk up because he doesn't want to be too small in the ring with a guy like B-Hop, but what we don't know is how he'll hold up with the extra weight, and whether or not he'll be able to maintain his workrate. There are many questions to be raised and the end results could leave even more to be answered. The one 'X - Factor' here (no pun intended), is the fact that B-Hop will be coming into the ring with a chip on his shoulder after suffering a loss in his last fight. He knows that a great legacy stands to be tarnished and he won't go down without emptying his clip. I think it's gonna be a great fight and look forward to it more now than I did when it was initially announced.
Isa Dominguez (Little Havana, Florida): Who do you see winning the fight between Nate Campbell and Joan Guzman?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think it should be a great fight. You can never underestimate any fighter that enters the ring undefeated. As great as Guzman is and as skilled as he has shown, I just think that if we see the same Nate Campbell enter the ring that we saw against Juan Diaz, it's gonna be a long night for Guzman. Typically I pick slick, skilled fighters over the more rugged type, but Nate is a bit of an exception in the sense that he is a better boxer than he gets credit for, and he's very crafty in the ring. Nate is probably the smartest in-ring strategist that Guzman has ever faced. This wasn't always the case with Nate, but in recent years he's evolved into a great fighter and with a new found pride and a new found bride, he now has a lot more worth fighting for. I think Guzman will have his moments and will make it an interesting fight, but I just think that Nate's pressure and ability to at times possibly out think Guzman will be a determining factor when it's all said and done. One other thing about Nate that seems to be forgotten pretty often is the fact that although he's not known as a power puncher, you have to realize that of the 32 fighters he defeated thus far in his career, only 7 were able to answer the final bell. We know that Guzman won't necessarily hurt him, but if he gets going and the shots are landing with any regularity, it's hard to say whether or not Guzman will hold up. I'll stop short of any prediction at this point, but Guzman would have to fight a near perfect fight to stay undefeated because I'm not sold on the notion of him going the full 12 rounds and subsequently outpointing Nate. Guess we'll have to wait and see.
(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at email@example.com, 954-857-6858, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
previous article: Ten Questions with 2008 United States Light Welterweight Olympian Javier Molina; August 6th Weigh-In
next article: Clottey vs. Margarito II is The Right Fight For Boxing; Miller on Kings Hall Bill