Boxing


The 'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag Featuring Khan, Hatton, Pacquiao, Campbell, Marquez and More!

Juan Manuel MarquezThis weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' installment is literally overflowing with buzz. To add a biblical spin, our proverbial 'cup' has runneth over! With a ton of talented lightweights getting set for a mega-fight weekend as we speak, this weeks mailbag serves as an official role call. Campbell, Juan Diaz, Guzman, Marquez, Casamayor, you name it, they're all in the mix. And once all the lightweight talk thins out, we take a look at the jr. middleweight rematch between Mora and Forrest, followed by a trip across the pond where we analyze the pairing of Hatton and Mayweather Sr., as well as the rise and unexpected fall of Amir Khan. So with no further ado, we kick off another tour.....City of H-Town on deck.....

Brent S. (Houston, TX): How would you rate the performance of Juan Diaz and where do you think he stands amongst the better lightweights in the sport?

Vivek W. (ESB): I thought Juan Diaz showed how great of a boxer he really is. I expected him to come into the fight with a chip on his shoulder after the loss to Campbell, but he clearly elevated a fight game that I always thought was very good. What he displayed to me was the fact that he has enough ring intelligence to adjust mid-round without the help of his corner. I thought it was one of the more brilliant adjustments I've ever seen by a fighter when he realized that Katsidis tried to press him from one angle and he would respond by using backward circles while still landing clean and precise shots. It's one thing to run circles around an opponent in the world of sports, but it's amazing to see a guy do it going backwards. I thought Diaz's performance highlighted two things in particular. One, it showed us a glimpse of his still yet to fully evolve talent, and Two, it showed us the true worth of Nate Campbell, who took everything Diaz had to offer, walked him down, and ultimately ran him out of the ring. Few have given Nate the credit he deserves for that fight and some even went as far as calling Diaz one dimensional. Bottomline, Diaz's performance showed us that he is indeed a solid contender, but Campbell was just the one man in the 35 he's faced who was able to execute a better game plan. How does Diaz stack up against the other top lightweights? I think Campbell aside, the only other solid matchups for him would be Juan Manuel Marquez, or Manny Pacquiao. Casamayor is a solid talent, but personally, I think over 12 rounds he would fall short on points to the much more active, 'keep-coming-forward' demeanor of Diaz.

Jayson M. (Fort Lauderdale, Fl): How do you think the pairing of Hatton and Mayweather Sr. will work out?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think it'll be interesting from the perspective that Mayweather is used to training fighters who are more finesse than fiesty, and this time he won't. When you go down the line, you have little Floyd, you have Guzman, you have Dawson, and De La Hoya. Each of those fighters with the exception of Oscar has been known to be very defensive, which in effect was the strength of their style. Here, Floyd Sr. will have to teach the proverbial 'old dog' new tricks. How receptive Hatton will be to learning defense will determine the outcome of this project. To take it a step further, it's probably safe to say how much Hatton will actually TRY to learn defensive will determine the outcome. I think Hatton is what he is - which is an offensive fighter who's pressure has given him his better past results. If nothing else, the braggadocios Mayweather Sr. will help his ego which appears to be still somewhat bruised, but I don't think that he'll be able to successfully convert Hatton into a fighter who understands how to balance defense with his patented pressure. The result, Hatton will win against some, but get frustrated against the better ones out there. In a sidebar, the one thing that I do love about this union is that it sets the table for Freddie Roach and Floyd Mayweather Sr. to potentially square off in two fights in a row because you can bet your bottom dollar that after the Pacquaio/Oscar fight, Pacquaio will eventually face Hatton. Fight fans will get the chance to see two of the best chess-masters in the game play strategy against strategy. What's there not to love about that?

Frederico Pinellas (Chicago, Il): Who do you like in the Guzman/Campbell fight?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think this fight will be the highlight of the weekend because either way, someone's career will be greatly elevated in the end. A Guzman victory will show us quite a bit, considering that Campbell is coming off one of the biggest wins of his career and has basically re-established himself as a prominent figure in the sport. A Campbell victory will propel him to a near mega-status as he will have consecutively defeated two of the sports undefeated and amazingly talented rising prospects. A victory for Campbell and no matter how great Hatton looks under Mayweather Sr.'s tutelage, I'd be protesting loud and clear for a Campbell/Pacquaio showdown because there'd be no better match in the division out there for either man. There are a few things you have to take into consideration in this fight. You have a battle tested, very aggressive fighter in Campbell who comes to bring the pain; Then you have a defensive specialist who knows how and when to dissect an opponent. Guzman is known to work over the long haul by out-smarting and subsequently out-pointing an opponent; Campbell on the other hand keeps chopping away until reality yell timber! There are so many variables that the pure contrast of this fight can only make it a great one. Few expect a knockout but my rebuttal says ask 25 of the 32 fighters Campbell defeated does he have power? I'm sure they'd beg to differ. I won't predict a winner here, but if Campbell is able to land effectively with his pressure and sustain it, Guzman may finally learn what it feels to walk away from the ring a loser. Stay tuned.

Megan Dunbar (Orlando, Fl): How do you see the Sergio Mora/Vernon Forrest rematch playing out and who do you give the edge to?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think this fight can go either way. You have a very good fighter in Forrest who has shown some signs of age slippage, then you have the rather 'herky-jerky' Mora who's young, vibrant, and has very underrated boxing skills. In support of Forrest, aside from the one judge who gave Mora a four point victory, the two other judges had it a two point victory for Mora, and a tie respectively. Many who saw that fight knows that some of the rounds were fairly tough to judge so that would tell me that if Forrest did somehow come into the ring after making a few adjustments, the end could be totally different. In support of Mora, I think if he comes in with his slick style and not only executes, but approaches the fight like he's the challenger trying to make a name for himself again, he could walk away with the "W". In the end, I think the way that Forrest reacts to the reality of what's going on will be the deciding factor. He knows another loss will relegate him to a future confined to Friday Night Fights and a bunch of not-so-popular venues, while an impressive win can land him right back in the thick of things. Based on that, it's tough at this point to really predict a winner from where I stand. It'll all come down to how Forrest handles the pressure of this fight in the eleventh and decisive hour.

Cedric Mercante (Miami Lakes, Fl): Joel Casamayor is a great boxer, but Marquez has a ton of heart. Who do you think wins this fight?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think this fight will be a great one, and as good as Casamayor is, my personal opinion is that Marquez is actually the better boxer in the ring between the two. It can be individually argued that Marquez once defeated Pacquaio - or collectively agreed to that he was very close in both fights. Few people in the sport can make that claim. I think it's gonna be a great fight and I look forward to checking it out like the next man. I think Casamayor will have his moments but Marquez will probably be just too much down the stretch. Would a Casamayor victory surprise me? No, but in my own humble opinion, I just think that Marquez is too skilled and will display too much heart to fall short in the end. It should be a great one, and no matter who loses, we know the fans in attendance and watching from home will win.

Alex L. (Notting Hill): What are your thoughts on Amir Kahn's recent setback?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think that Khan's handlers failed to do exactly what Cotto's handlers were once criticized for, yet was totally right in doing; Which was let their fighter evolve to a certain level before putting him in against a certain level. When you have a diamond in the rough, you have to slowly polish it to get that full beam one day. It was obvious that Khan was perhaps carried along at a pace that was never suitable for him. If I was a trainer and my fighter was knocked down by a fighter who only managed to get 8 KO's in 31 fights (Limond), the last thing I would agree to is to put him in against a fighter with 18 KO's in 20 fights. This is only one example of the front-office 'gaffs' made by Khan camp. Not too long ago people were comparing him to a young Naseem Hamed, and in an unfortunate way, he would learn that they did actually parallel each other in a way neither expected. That unfortunate way was a humbling loss to a fighter they both really believed would give them no problem. Khan seems to have taken the loss in stride but his next fight will tell us alot about what we can expect for him in the future.


(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexemail@yahoo.com, 954-292-7346, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)

Article posted on 11.09.2008



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