'The Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Mailbag Featuring Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao
This weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' mailbag features a few interesting questions directly from the minds of some of the sports most avid fans. With only a few days remaining until the showdown between Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao, needless to say, all the attention for this weeks mailbag shifts dramatically to their side of the room. Some plan to tune in to the fight, others don't, but based on some of the questions received it probably won't matter because one thing for sure, EVERYONE has an opinion one way or the other. Being the lucky recipient of these questions I'll try to answer them as neutral as possible, but hit or miss, come Saturday night only two men can decide and in the end, only one will remain standing. Our first questions this week comes from a fight fan on the west coast who wanted to know the following.....
Ricardo Espinoza (Reseda, CA): As a Manny Pacquiao fan my biggest fear is Oscar's left hook, but lately, many reports have surfaced about him having issues with his left shoulder (rotator cuff). Do you think those are valid reports or early traps being set?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think whether that report is valid or invalid doesn't matter. It's more about what Pacquiao and his camp does with that knowledge that will ultimately decide whether that's helpful info or a trap. If Pacquiao takes him lightly and doesn't exploit that injury it could be the reason for his ultimate demise. The flipside to that, if Pacquiao uses a strategy that the great Roy Jones Jr. used frequently - which is constantly bang at the shoulders and arms of a fighter to wear those limbs out early - then he could hit the jackpot because that would undoubtedly nullify Oscar's biggest weapon whether it was a problem before or not. On a personal note I sort of question the timing of these reports. The last time I personally heard Oscar mention the shoulder issue was after the Mayorga fight. Beyond that point, it's been relatively a non-discussed issue. That either means that he's not trying to use it as an excuse (which is highly commendable), or it could mean that it isn't as bad as reported, but has conveniently resurfaced at the right time. I would never question Oscar's integrity relative to the injury and don't believe anyone else should because only he and God truly knows what he feels, but I will say this though....In the end, I wouldn't be surprised if somehow we end up discussing that injury again and how it affected the outcome.
ReNata Perez (Orlando, FL): What about Manny Pacquiao can Oscar exploit and give him the best chance at victory?
Vivek W. (ESB): For Pacquiao, the biggest concern is actually his biggest asset. His heart. If he pulls a Miguel Cotto and decides to exchange at all cost without using caution, footwork, and picking his spots, he could end up being walked down late, or hurt early. Sometimes Pacquiao has a tendency to be too aggressive and we've seen it cost him against men who didn't punch nearly as hard as Oscar. People can talk about the left shoulder injury all they want, but Oscar will close the show if he lands that left hook and catches Pacquiao with a crisp, well delivered shot that he doesn't see coming. I think Pacquiao will have to do what Hatton did recently, which is harness his aggression and use it only when there's an opening to exploit. It's sort of a catch 22 though, because if Manny goes in with high energy early, he can actually wear Oscar down for the latter rounds. But if he goes in with that high energy early, that's also when you can expect Oscar to be fresher and more sharp which increases the danger. If Oscar can time his shots and catch Manny early and often I think it'll take Manny totally out of his plan. However, the question here is whether or not Oscar will have the stamina to keep up that punch output if he can't get Manny out of there early?
Basil Charles (Queens, NY): I think both fighters have gotten gift decisions in the past. If this fight comes down to the scorecards, who do you think gets the nod?
Vivek W. (ESB): I'll start by saying that I agree totally. Pacquiao's decision against Marquez to me was a draw at worst, or close, questionably decisive victory for Marquez at best. Oscar on the other hand I think has received a number of gift decisions. Whitaker, Sturm, and Quartey all immediately come to mind. If these two ended up going to the cards it's hard to say who would actually get the nod but if the recent history is any indication, I think Pacquiao wins. For one, he has the energy to fight the full 3 minutes of every round. Secondly, his style naturally requires him to throw more than Oscar. Last but not least, ever since the Trinidad fight where Oscar lost for jumping on his 'bike' in the end, Oscar's only 'gift' from the judges was the Sturm fight; Aside from that, he and his promotional company have been on the short end of the stick in nearly every card he's been a part of as a fighter and promoter. As a fighter, he failed to get the nod against Mosley in the very close second encounter, then there was the decision he failed to get against Mayweather in a fight that some also felt was close. As a promoter, Hopkins failed to secure a close decision against Calzaghe, Mosley failed to get a close decision against Cotto, and the list goes on. Some in the media have even openly began to wonder if the 'powers-that-be' have an agenda towards Oscar on the heels of what's been probably 7 or 8 fights now that have gone against him and his fighters, so if that's any indication, it doesn't bode to well for him. But in the end analysis, my money says that the man who does enough to win will win. No one is gonna jeopordize the already slim fan base by awarding the wrong guy the fight after a lop-sided affair. If that does happen, I think I'd be done with the sport myself....and that's saying a lot!
Sammy V. (Coral Gables, FL): Where does an Oscar victory place him amongst all-time greats?
Vivek W. (ESB): I don't think it budges him a step beyond where he is currently, which isn't too high on that list according to many. It's one thing to say all-time greats of this era, but all-time greats in history...That's a bit of a stretch! I always remind people that Oscar has sort of created a greatness about him that's totally separate from his accomplishments between the ropes. He's 0-5 against future hall-of-famers faced who were still in their prime. (Hopkins, Mosley - twice, Mayweather, and Trinidad). A victory over Pacquiao would be the equivalence of the Barry Bonds homerun accomplishment because no matter how great it comes off before our eyes, there will always be that asterisk attached. Beating a hall-of-famer who regularly fights about 20 pounds lighter would come with a price tag heavier than the opponent he just smashed. I don't think there's much to rave about in beating Pac-man or Hatton for a guy Oscar's size. Take away those accomplishments if he pulls them off and his resume quickly loses steam. I can't answer this question for everyone but personally, i don't think he makes my top 20 all-time. But that's just me.
Brett C. (Boca Raton, Fl): I don't think this fight makes much sense and I'm not the only one. Why do many in the media continue to defend this fight when it's clear that it's about dollars and cents?
Vivek W. (ESB): For starters, I greatly respect both men standing at center stage, but in reality, no one has been more vocal about the dynamics behind this fight in the media than I've been. I think with fighters such as Margarito, Cotto, and Paul Williams all within 7 pounds of Oscar's current weight class, there's no reason Oscar should be facing a man this small. Kelly Pavlik's natural weight class is only 6 pounds north of Oscar, so if he really wanted to do fight fans a favor he'd step into that lions den. Trouble is, despite the numbers that fight would do, it'll never happen because Oscar has apparently chosen to take the path of least resistance to big bucks. The flipside to that is that there's no way that Pacquiao should have ever agreed to take a fight with Oscar when he has Nate Campbell, Ricky Hatton, and a host of others roaming in his neck of the woods, but considering the type of money on the table and his desire to fiercely compete, it didn't take much to get his name on the dotted line either. The truth of the matter is that it's all - exclusively and unequivocally - about dollars and cents, and any of us in the media would insult our own intelligence for stating anything otherwise. Right before our eyes, Oscar has become what I label a 'graphics' fighter. In other words, his complete M.O. at this point is based solely on and around demographics, and geographics. The only demographic that would whet his appetite for mega bucks are the ones that fall in huge fight based geographics. (ie. Hatton - U.K. fans, Pacuquiao - Asian fans, etc). No other fights interest him. I'd even go out on a limb and say win, lose or draw, before we ever see Pac-man and Hatton square off, Oscar will get his shot against Hatton in Wembley Stadium across the pond. Hatton's promo deal with GBP has all but solidified that. Love it or hate it though, fight fans don't have the right to be mad at Oscar or Manny for taking that money because as much as people say they're tired of Oscar and his antics, when it's showtime on HBO they drop their ducketts in the bucket time and time again. So as much as I'd like to be the rebel and call out Oscar and Pac-man for taking this fight, I'd probably be better served answering your question by quoting my Sr. Drill Instructor from Marine Corp boot camp in saying "If you don't like it, great....Now make like a straw and suck it up"!
Tune in tomorrow to the next installment of our daily countdown to Pacquaio/De La Hoya...Remaining lineup schedule listed below):
Thu: Champs, Chumps, Controversies: Fight Fans Reaction To The 'Dream Match' (A look at how fans view this matchup)
Fri: 'Call Em Out Fridays': (My weekly 'spotlight' article, analyzing the pro's, the con's, and the neutral take on the two fighters involved)
Sat: Keys To Victory, Four To Explore, and Official Prediction (Talking fight strategy, key effects to watch out for, and fight prediction).
Mon: Pacquiao/De La Hoya - 'The Aftermath': (Posted Monday, Not Sunday - A Recap and a look at where the two fighters go from here).
(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org and 954-292-7346, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
Article posted on 03.12.2008
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