'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag featuring Kirkland, Cotto, Margarito, Oscar, and more!

James KirklandThis weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' delivers on yet another weekend of fairly interesting events in the world of boxing. With the emergence of a bright young star and news surrounding a few other familiar faces as well, there's definitely not a shortage of topics to chew on. After his victory Saturday night, James Kirkland has suddenly become a hot topic, and it appears that his stock could be in for a great rise, with just cause. Making the mailbag as well is Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto, as well as Antonio Margarito and a few others. So, with no further ado, we jump right into the mix with a question from H-Town.....

Terrance M. (Houston, TX): Do you think James Kirkland is ready for the big stage after Saturdays performance?

Vivek W. (ESB): Prior to the fight, I purposely planted a pen and notepad next to me so that I could write down key mental notes about Kirkland, solely centered around two things. His defense, and his reaction/ability to take a punch. Watching him in the past I saw a few kinks in his armor that I expected a hard-punching fighter like Julio to exploit, but honestly, I guess like a Miguel Cotto of years ago, what I see in Kirkland now is a guy that has amazing potential already, and it's startling to know that he hasn't even scratched the surface yet. I saw him use his non-punching hand to cover up and protect against the big bombs, I saw him slip a lot of other punches, and I saw him bob and weave very well. That was a key thing to note, but what surprised me more was the fact that he was able to take Julio's shots the way he did and basically walk right through them before landing his own. I'm not one to jump on the Mike Tyson comparative bandwagon - as it relates to Kirkland - but the one thing that they do have in common is the fact that they are powerful fighters who have the ability to take powerful shots. A very deadly combination for anyone standing in front of them. Is Kirkland ready for the big time? I don't know that Julio is a good enough gauge, but what I do know is that Kirkland is well on his way. He has the explosiveness, the power in both hands, the chin, the endurance, and the solid leg base which supports the big shots he delivers. I think he has everything except a few raw fundamentals, (ie. fluidity of the jab) which he makes up for through the rigorous training camps with Ann Wolfe. Speaking of Ann, I think she deserves a helluva lot of credit for the work she's doing with him. They are one! His fierce nature, coupled with her intensity and creativity (from a training standpoint) make for a tandem that we may be talking about for quite some time.

Sedrick Merriweather (Philly, PA): What are your thoughts on Antonio Margarito fighting in Mexico this summer despite his suspension?

Vivek W. (ESB): There are two sides to this whole debate relative to whether or not he should be fighting. Yes, he was found guilty of 'something', whether we want to call it cheating, or whatever. He didn't get suspended for nothing, so there was some wrong action carried out that he was a part of. That being said, there's a way around practically any system, and when you consider the fact that he still has a family to provide for, not fighting in the U.S. is no big deal when he knows he can fill an arena in his native country. All this does is serves as a reason for Margarito/Arum to stage some kind of homecoming for the former champ, and help him re-generate interest among the Mexican fans who may be on the fence about him in wake of his humbling loss to Mosley. I personally feel that if one state commission banned him, the rest should follow, be it locally, nationally, or internationally. Granted, the U.S. and Mexico are separate countries, but they should all be united for the one sport that he represents. Unfortunately, the world isn't perfect, and the politics and money that govern each country also govern the sports that fall within them. The moment his suspension was announced many speculated that he would cross the border to fight. Hours later a local political figure in his country welcomed a his participation in a fight on Mexican soil with open arms, and the rest was history. I think it stinks, but he has a family to feed so let him feed them. He usually cast a slight smile when he gets smashed in the mouth and rebounds. Now that he's found a way to beat the system, I'm sure he's wearing that smile once again. I just hope for his sake the various U.S. state commissions don't get to laugh in the end when it's time to reapply. Think about it.

L.C. Clark (Washington D.C.): Who do you think wins a fight between Kirkland and Angulo?

Vivek W. (ESB): Right now, I think Kirkland takes that fight. No knocks on Angulo, because I think he's coming along well, I just don't think that he's come along enough. He has 15 fights under his professional belt, and only one time has he been beyond the 6th round. Granted, Kirkland is somewhat new to the game as well, and for the record, he's only been beyond round 6 three times, but he appears to be a bit more evolved to me, and his training regimen prepares him for almost anything. I think in a few years these two could own the division and find themselves firmly entrenched in the midst of an epic trilogy - or something close - but presently, I think I have to lean towards Kirkland until Angulo not only shows me more, but learns to do a little more.

Carmelo Sanchez (Miami Lakes, FL): Do you think Joshua Clottey is a bad match for Miguel Cotto?

Vivek W. (ESB): In more ways than one! Clottey brings many problems for Cotto and has a very underrated defense. The guy picks off more shots than a bullet proof vest, and has an arsenal that gives an opponent quite a bit to think about as well, in return. I think it's a great gauge for both men. I think this fight will come down to who can do the most damage while sustaining the least. (I know, sounds pretty elementary). The reason I say that is because, despite Cotto's power, I'm not sold on his ability to actually hurt Clottey. Margarito hurt his hands severly trying, (and that may have been with extra padding), so what does that say for a Miguel Cotto who doesn't have the same height and reach advantage, and who won't hit him as much anyhow due to the lower punch output - (in comparison to Margarito's work rate)? Cotto can take a punch, and Clottey can as well, so I don't see a knockout happening. I think it's a very even fight, but one thing that I'm very mindful of is the fact that this will be only the second time in his career where Cotto is fighting a guy who will not be affected by his punching power. Mosley was, and he somewhat altered his strategy at points as a result. Margarito took the shots and kept coming until he wore Cotto down. Clottey will come just as much with the same wicked intentions. We may finally get a legitimate chance to see if Cotto has truly shaken the agony of defeat suffered in his humbling loss to Margarito. If there are any mental weaknesses remaining from that fight, this will be the type of fight to bring them out.

Jose Archuletta (Miami Gardens, FL): Those of us that have followed your work know that you can always be relied upon to speak on some odd perspective that few others took note of (hahaha). What stood out most to you on the B.A.D. fightcard last Saturday?

Vivek W. (ESB): I thought there were two things that stood out, one that I've heard, another that I haven't. The one that I have heard is the fact that - as good friend and fellow boxing scribe Ryan Songalia so accurately pointed out - as great as the fight card looked on paper, we learned once again that paper burns. All of those fight seemed to be pair very evenly matched fighters with no no-brainers indicated in any of the results. By the end of the night we learned that such wasn't the case. The other thing that stood out to me (and probably only me - hahaha) was a rarely seen dimension of Oscar De La Hoya after the Kirkland fight. I've been pretty critical of Oscar at times, mainly because I feel that he's far more impressive now days as a promoter than a fighter, but Saturday night I saw a side of him that I was really impressed with. Was I the only one that noticed how elated he was in the ring with Kirkland? Going as far as getting the attention of the closest camera man to snap a shot with the two of them raising a fist. That was particularly impressive to me because it showed me the human side of a man that many began to view as nothing more than an ego personality. That showed me a fan side of Oscar that each of us can connect with as fight aficionado's. For so long he's been the measuring stick in the sport, and to see him that elated over one of his young guys was a breath of fresh air because I learned that he has finally learned that although his day has come and gone, he can still play an intricate role in the evolution and development of those trying to get where he's already been. A very genuine moment in my book. Kudo's to arguably the best promoter in the sport. You know what this means for Kirkland though....Keep training hard because the Goldenboy just got a very golden vision as it relates to their partnership....Bigger fights, bigger money!

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

Article posted on 09.03.2009

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