'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag featuring Berto, Cotto, Pacquiao, Gamboa and more!

Andre BertoThis weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' hits on pretty much every intriguing topic in the world of boxing today. Everything from the forthcoming Berto/Collazo clash, to the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes, to Miguel Cotto's chances of defeating Antonio Margarito in the rematch, and beyond. With a host of young guns on the scene, one fight fan even decided to take a look at which one amongst the current crop has the best chance to shine the brightest. So many topics, so little time. So with no further ado, we jump right in, starting out in Reseda, California where a fight fan wanted to know the following:

Martin J. (Reseda, CA): What individual edge do you give Andre Berto and Luis Collazo respectively in their fight?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think this fight will be a great gauge for both men.. I think when you look at past ring endeavors, you have to admit that Collazo has faced a better level of opposition, facing Hatton, Mosley, and spending significant time in fight camp with Paul Williams before he faced Carlos Quintana in the rematch. Berto hasn't faced the same level of opposition but he's clearly a pure talent. Relative to individual advantages (if that's what you meant by 'edge'), I'd have to say that Berto's advantage will be his speed and clearly his power. Berto's speedy combinations and middleweight biceps establish a thrust that few will handle when he finally pieces things together. Many doubt his power because he failed to get the KO against the smaller Steve Forbes, but ask yourself how many men have failed in that mission? Forbes has rarely been down in his career and there's probably not a better set of whiskers in the jr. welterweight limit. Berto's speed and power are very adequate. Collazo's edge comes by way of ring IQ and defense. Few have ever been able to land at will on him and despite the lack of KO power, he has enough ring smarts to make you miss, and enough snap to make you pay - just ask Shane Mosley, who once referred to him as the "craftiest fighter" he ever shared space with. When you look at the set of advantages between the two, it makes you wonder if this showdown will parallel the NFL's "defense wins championships" mantra. Mayweather jr. showed us that you can't hurt what you can't hit. If Collazo can make Berto miss and occasionally sting him to keep him off balance, things could get interesting. The southpaw stance won't make it easier and the ring smarts could seal the deal. I love the talents of Andre Berto, but if he wants to keep his strap and earn the big paydays, it all starts against a fighter like this.

J. Cerrios (Orlando, FL): I noticed that you recently stated that you expect Miguel Cotto to have problems in his rematch with Antonio Margarito. I think he will win easily. Can you explain your position on that topic?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think a rematch after such a humiliating debacle always comes down to the mental game, however, the physical aspect (as witnessed in the various photos after the fight) won't be a cake walk either. The thing is, that type of loss totally strips a fighter of his heart, and that says alot because that's one thing Cotto has always had tons of. Prior to the fight I stated in my pre-fight analysis that the beginning of the end would come when Cotto lands the best shots in his arsenal and Margarito responds by waving him in for more with that patented grin that exudes the words "is that all you got"? In hindsight, that was exactly what happened. Now, after already pushing his 'heart' to the limit, ask yourself how Cotto will respond when finding himself in the ring reliving that past. Cotto will not gain any more strength than he had before. If Margarito comes in prepared the way he was before, I just think the only way Cotto can win is by adapting the Mayweather style, which is land his shots, then following up with swift foot work to get the hell out of the way before he takes any in return. Some call it cowardly, I call it smart defense from a ego-contained man who cares more about a safe victory than proving his heart to doubters that he'll never convince anyhow. Cotto's heart is typically his lifeline, but there comes a point where a man has to abandon his ego and do what the job calls for at all ethical cost. Critics may say he has become a runner. I say if he can win with it and it's within the rules, let 'em talk. He used great footwork and boxing skills to lead on the cards through the first half of the fight, let that blueprint lead the way to a trilogy.

Marc Isidro (North Miami Beach, FL): Miguel Cotto recently stated that he would face Pacquaio, now Berto has said the same thing, as well as Margarito. How much of a chance do you give Pacquiao against any of these big guys?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think the Pacquiao sweepstakes is picking up right where Oscar and Floyd left off. Every few years in the sport there seems to be a new guy who has people coming out of the woodworks to land a big payday, and it seems that Pacquaio fits the current slot. That being said, I don't think Pacquiao needs to entertain anyone else on the welterweight level. At all! In an odd way, he's allowed Oscar to become a measuring tool, and in hindsight, he was a very deceiving one. Pacquiao is as talented as they come, but facing a 'dead-man-walking' like Oscar is nothing like the challenge that awaits if he dare step in the ring with a live body like we've heard him rumored with in the welterweight division. Granted, there will be a lot of "O's" following the first digit of his paystubb, but they won't come close to the amount of "O's" he'll use to introduce those four word expletives that would cross his mind every time one of those guys start dropping bombs in the ring. I think Pacquiao is half-man, half-amazing, but if he wants to land alot of "O's", his mission had better start far far away from the three "O's" in the welterweight division. (As in MargaritO, BertO, and CottoO). A date with any of those three "O's" may mean NO MO' PACQUIAO!!!!!

Sylvester Marchand (Charlotte, NC): If Marquez gets past Diaz, how do you see a fight between he and Campbell playing out?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think that would be a helluva fight. You'd be pairing the best pure boxer in that weight range against arguably the fighter with the most heart, grit, and determination. For whatever reason, people still continue to sleep on Nate Campbell and fail to give him his props, but to be honest, I don't know what else the man can do to prove his worth. He has become one of those guys who simply can't get his just due for whatever reason. I think Marquez would present some troubles, but I consider him to be more of a pure boxer with fewer defensive skills than the average. In other words, he's a fighter that can be hit, and that makes him succeptible to punishment from Nate because Campbell is clearly one of those fighters who aims to seek and destroy. I don't wanna go on record this early and attempt to make predictions because in all fairness to both men, they each have dates ahead of them and it does no good for any of us to look that far ahead, but I think a showdown between the two would be great, and it appears it could very well materialize. Let's just see what happens.

Xavier Ceballos (Liberty City, FL): After seeing Yuriorkis Gamboa last Friday night, do you think he is the next big star amongst the young crop of up-and-comers in the sport?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think Gamboa has a huge upside but personally, I'd like to see him under the tutelage of a trainer who will force him to shore up his defense. The guy has crazy speed, a wicked style, and a marketable personality and vibe, but if he's not careful he could very well end up suffering a humiliating KO due to his knack for keeping his hands down. We've seen it result in a few flash knockdowns so far in his short career, but what happens when he squares off against a guy that can crack? I think over time he'll make the necessary improvements, but as it relates to him being the next big star amongst the up-and-comers, I think it could be one of a few different guys. Gamboa's certainly in the mix; Then you have Juan Manuel Lopez - I'm a huge fan of this kid...Berto, Kirkland, Angulo, Arreola, Erislandy Lara, and a host of others. Which one of them emerges from the pack as the next biggest star is hard to tell so early, but I think we'll all get a kick out of watching them in the process.

(Got questions or feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at and 954-292-7346, follow his work at 8CountNews and the Examiner, or show him some love at Myspace).

Article posted on 12.01.2009

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