Boxing

The 'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Mailbag Featuring Oscar, Pacquaio, Mayweather, Hatton, Vitali, and More!

This weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' installment is basically a role call for the sports elite. Making the mailbag this week is everyone from Manny Pacquaio, to Oscar De La Hoya, to Ricky Hatton, to Samuel Peter. As if that wasn't enough, in one of our five featured questions we take a look at the loaded light middleweight divison, as well as the return of Vitali Klitscko. Of course a mailbag isn't a mailbag unless a few old names pop in..

Vitali KlitschkoThis week those honors belong to Felix Trinidad and Floyd Mayweather Jr., and in the end, we even take a moment out to shine the spotlight on one of the sports rising talents, Puerto Rican sensation Juan Manuel Lopez. So with no further ado, we put an ear to the streets to find out what's on the mind of thee average fight aficionado! With all eyes on the map, we hone in on Quantico, Virginia where a dedicated fight fan wanted to know the following........

Freddy Marcovich (Quantico, VA): If Manny Pacquiao defeats Oscar De La Hoya, how soon do you see him facing Ricky Hatton?

Vivek W. (ESB): With tough fights scheduled I don't think either man needs to be thinking of anyone else, but to answer your question, I think it all comes down to how well Pacman does against Oscar. I think if Pacman is humbled by Oscar, he'll take a warm up fight first to shake the psychological effects, then try to tackle Hatton. The flipside of this argument is that if Pacman defeats Oscar, I don't think the fight with Hatton will happen right away because there's no doubt in my mind that Floyd jr. would return to face him. Think about it......Does this scenario not have all the makings of a fight Floyd would consider safe enough to return for? You have two of the most recent pound for pound champs. You have two guys who will have both defeated Oscar De La Hoya. You have two men who are more comfortable at - and not much above - 147lbs. And it would bare mega fight implications on an international scale. Both men will have used Oscar to stage record breaking fights, only to turn around and face one another to form an even bigger spectacle. What's there not to like in this proposition for Floyd or Pacquiao? To answer your question directly, I think a fight with Hatton only comes about if Pacquiao loses. If Pacquiao wins, whether Hatton wins or loses to Malignaggi, I think the bait would be laid rather quickly to get Mayweather back. And you know what?, I guess it was true when some in the past have called Mayweather a mouse because if team Pacquaio lays that bait, he would gladly come running from his corner to make that multi-million dollar cheese! No questions asked, no regrets for the present, and no remorse from the past!

Sedrick Nickson (Long Island, NY): I read your recent interview/article with Luis Collazo and I noticed that he is the WBA and WBC mandatory opponent. Why is it that people don't tend to respect his ability, and what do you think the odds of him defeating either of those champs are(Margarito or Berto)?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think there are a number of reasons why Collazo hasn't gotten the respect he deserves. For starters, he's not the type of fighter who walks around with a chip on his shoulder, calling guys out and making a fuss to keep his name in the news. Secondly, despite very credible power, he's not the huge KO artist that some fans crave. When you couple that with his slick defensive ability, some fans and media find a slight fall off in excitement. I think it's totally bizarre that we don't see or here more of him because this is a fighter who has shown all signs of an amazing skill level. He's hard to hit, when he is hit he has a solid enough chin to sustain it, he's slick, and he's a southpaw. I've never heard anyone say it, but I think it's very funny how Collazo shares the same blueprint of another fighter who can't seem to get his props in the sport. Both southpaws, both have masterful defenses, and both have enough offense to keep an opponent thinking. That other guy is Winky Wright, who ironically has also failed to get the respect of the media, despite clearly having the respect of the men who SHOULD BE standing across the ring from him. Ricky Hatton thought Collazo would be an easy date, and to this day, everyone who witnessed that fight knows Collazo was robbed. Mosely's win over him was a bit more convincing but an injury to Collazo's hand didn't' help, and Mosley has been open about his respect for Collazo, once identifying him as one of his toughest opponents to figure out in the ring. That was the same Mosley that stretched Cotto to the brink. Bottomline, it's not a guarantee that Collazo beats all the great welters out there, but anyone who doesn't think he can spring a few surprises had better 'pass the keys' to a friend because it's obvious that they're highly intoxicated! With opportunity comes success. Neither of the current champs have given him the opportunity, which could explain why he hasn't been able to find the success. That may all soon change. Stay tuned.

Jose Martinez (Hialeah, FL): It was recently reported that Felix Trinidad views Juan Manuel Lopez as his 'successor' in Puerto Rico. Do you think that comment was premature and do you think he should be ranked ahead of other current island greats such as Cotto and Calderon?

Vivek W. (ESB): The way I interpreted Trinidad's comments is basically him saying that of all the current Puerto Rican greats, Lopez is the only one recently that came out the gates in a way that embodied a total package. Meaning everything a successful fighter needs to not only elevate himself in the ring, but also outside of it. Lopez is viewed by most as not only charismatic outside of the ring - which helps him connect with the fans - but also brilliant inside the ring in a way that is totally unquestionable by anyone, to include non-Puerto Rican fight fans. This was a blueprint that Trinidad himself employed to win over fight fans. When you think about Miguel Cotto, as great as he is, something about him allowed questions to linger, whether it was his chin, his stamina, or whatever. Although Cotto dispelled all of those questions, it's safe to say that he didn't do so until after the Mosley fight which was less than a year ago. In Cotto, there is also a media and fan disconnect to some degree because his level of charisma is not viewed the same which actually works against him, considering that it gives room for those fans who can't relate to him to question him even more, unfortunately. Similarly, Calderon has always been viewed as a great fighter, but from a total package standpoint, his personality is also more subdued and there is an obvious disconnect when it comes to his power, only having 6 KO's in 32 fights. Neither man has that total package which would allow them to be someone who fans will love to see based on personality, skills, and excitement. Somewhere, someone out there is saying that Lopez is too new to garner this credential, but my response would be that Trinidad made the comment, I didn't! And as a man who was unquestionably the face of Puerto Rican boxing for the last decade plus, I think he has a pretty good idea of what it would take to become his successor for that mantle. He has known Cotto and Calderon for years and there's a reason why he never laid that tag on them. Think about it!

Brett Parker (San Francisco, CA): The light middleweight division is slowly becoming just as deep as the welterweight division. Who would you consider the most talented, and who do you see ultimately running the scene in the division?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think it would be extremely premature to say who the last man standing will be in this division but there's obviously a 'loaded deck'. Lets analyze this a little closer....You have young guns such as Angulo and Kirkland, you have vets such as Forrest, Santos, and Spinks; then you have Joel Julio and Sergiy Dzinzurik, as well as (yeah, I'm gonna go there fellas) Mosley, and perhaps even the money bag who's listed in this division but doesn't seem to want to fight anyone in it, Oscar De La Hoya. As tough as that list looks, I think there are three dark horses who could potentially give any of them hell whom currently resides 7 pounds south; those dark horses being Paul Williams, Antonio Margarito, and Joshua Clottey, whom all fight very heavy as welterweights. Of all the guys listed here, considering that Williams is a freakish fighter who can make 147 but is actually more comfortable fighting between 154 and 160, I think he becomes a major threat at some point if any fighter in the current pack of light middleweights emerge and there's a big money fight to be made. His reach, punch output, and mechanics make him a tough fight for all of these guys. Margarito's work rate, power, and chin could potentially make him a big threat, and Joshua Clottey's chin, along with his workrate and style makes him - if nothing else - a tough stepping stone for those who truly are the elite in the '54 division. I won't play the role of a know-it-all because there's no way to know who will emerge from this group, but one thing for sure, it'll be very interesting to watch it unfold.

Marcus S. (Delray Beach, FL): What chances do you give Samuel Peter against Vitali Klitschko?

Vivek W: (ESB): I think this fight can go in a few different directions. For starters, we have no idea which Vitali is gonna show up. I know what Vitali we saw years ago. It was a very solid one who in my opinion was actually better than his brother who now pretty much runs the heavyweight division. Fast forward a few years and a major injury later, and we may very well see a shell of that fighter. On the other side, how many of us really know which Samuel Peter is gonna show up? Will we get the focused edition that took the fight to James Toney in the rematch, or will we get the one who hit the deck multiple times and appeared poorly conditioned against Jameel McCline? As I weigh those options I can't help but realize that in both of those vastly different options, Peter found a way to win, and in the end, if was a betting man, I'd put my money on him here as well. I like Vitali. I think prior to his injury he was the real deal. But coming in off of a long layoff and putting himself in the line of fire against the divisions second top draw is a grave mistake in my estimation. I think even if Peter is hurt at a few points in the fight, he'll find a way to gut it out and get the "W". We know there will be ring rust in Klitschko, and all it's gonna take is the high emotions running in his veins coupled with reflexes that may be a tad bit off kilt to get him caught with a flush shot that could very well send him back to the showers --- early might I add!. Klitschko is the better fundamental boxer, but the time off in the end will haunt him! To answer your question directly, I like Peter's chances very much against a rusty Klitschko.

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

Article posted on 08.10.2008



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