'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag - Featuring Pacquiao, Roach, Hatton, and Mayweather Sr.

This weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' mailbag kicks off a week long countdown to Saturdays long anticipated showdown between the U.K.'s Ricky Hatton and the sports pound for pound king, Filipino Manny Pacquiao. With so many angles and perspectives to cover during this weeks countdown to the big fight, today, we start by taking it to the streets, where we cover key questions posed by some of the biggest fight fans on the planet. From trainers Freddie Roach and Floyd Mayweather sr., to the fighters themselves, this weeks lounge leaves no holes barred. With the world awaiting and the respective teams geared up for battle, we initiate the festivities in Los Angeles, California, where a fellow fight fan wanted to know the following:

Reggie W. (Los Angeles, CA): Both Freddie Roach and Floyd Mayweather jr. have done great things for the sport. Which one do you think will play a bigger role in this actual fight?

Vivek W. (ESB): Those that have watched Manny Pacquiao evolve over the years can attest that he has come a long way, and technically, after being responsible for that transformation, there's very little more that Freddie Roach can add to what he's already done for Manny. Now that he has molded Pacman into a well oiled machine, his only remaining job is to make good adjustments with sound advice based on what he sees from outside the ring during the rounds. Mayweather, on the other hand, is still in the process of trying to do that very thing to his fighter. Hatton has shown improvement under Mayweather, but he's gonna be in there against different type of monster this time which changes everything. I think that the Mayweather/Hatton tandem can go from best friends to worst enemies, quickly. If Mayweather has been able to effectively implement the changes he brings to Hatton, things could run smoothly, but the chance also exist for things to fall apart for them quickly as well. In example, Hatton - a known brawler - is now under the tutelage of a pure fundamentalist who is trying to implement better core fundamentals. That sounds great in theory, but if there was ever a fight where Hatton needed to be that bulldog who presses the action and keeps his guy on his backfoot, this is that fight! Instead, he's being taught to box strategically. If Hatton gets in the ring and tries to outbox Pacquiao he'll be eaten alive! So the room for error is far less in the Hatton/Mayweather camp. Mayweather has the biggest job, which is to make sure all of those transformational techniques he taught his brawler actually sticks during the heat of the battle. Based on the mission ahead, I think Mayweather plays a bigger role, because he has far more work to do with his fighter. Even in defeat, no one could (or would) ever call Pacquiao a hoax, so if Mayweather and Hatton emerge victorious, his claim for being the sports best trainer would merit conversation because clearly, Pacman is the better boxer of the two and defeating him would be a HUGE statement after only two fights under his belt with the Sr. Mayweather.

David A. (Dallas, TX): Who do you think has the edge in intangibles between Pacquiao and Hatton in this fight?

Vivek W (ESB): The height and reach factor is a non-issue, so that's pretty even. Pacman is very much the faster fighter, but Hatton is pretty quick as well, so that's not a huge issue to contend with, either. Pacquiao has the greater resume, wherein Hatton is more proven at the higher weight limit; and the list goes on, but it all remains equal. All in all, most things that would be intangibles between any other two fighters are a wash between these guys. For every perceived intangible that you can name for one guy, there's another one for the other. That's what makes this fight so great! There is truly no separating intangible that really stands out. I think if anything, the one thing that I think could separate these two guys will be the fact that Pacquiao is known to get stronger as the fight goes on, wherein Hatton has shown huge signs of decline beyond 9 (rds). I can't jump to call that a true intangible because we don't know how training in the mountains of Vegas and dealing with that altitude will help Hatton. If Hatton isn't in the best condition of his life, that will be the ultimate intangible because he will lose this fight FOR SURE as a result.

Mark S. (Miami, FL): What chance do you give Hatton at an actual stoppage of Pacquiao?

Vivek W. (ESB): I've said time and time again, others have done a decent job at going to the body, but this will be the FIRST time in his career that Pacquiao faces a naturally bigger fighter who has a dedicated passion to the ribs. We've seen Pacquiao hurt from head shots, but we've never seen him affected in a major way to the body - in recent times - because during his pound for pound era he has yet to face a fighter with sustained aggression to that section. Remember, body shots make those legs heavy! If Hatton has a sustained dedication to the body with success and smothers Pacquiao like he typically does opponents, making it a close combat fight (which saps energy even more so), I think there's a massive chance that Hatton can get the stoppage. The body shots, the constant smothering and the in-fighting are all things that Pacquiao has never had to deal with at length in a fight because he's never faced a guy who was this good at this that style of fighting. On the evening of May 2nd, he will. It's beyond any of our wildest imagination to fathom a scenario in which Pacquiao could be stopped, but all it takes is a glimpse of the bitter display on his face in the losses to Torrecampo and Singsurat, which both came by thunderous body shots. Yes, he was much younger, but against Torrecampo in particular, Pacman was an 11-0 prospect coming in that had height and reach advantages, and just happened to get caught by something nasty that made him appear temporarily paralyzed as he laid on the deck, unable to move that complete side of his body with crossed eyes (no joke - no pun intended). Yes, Hatton can score a knockout in this fight, believe it or not!

Craig P. (Covina, CA): Does Pacquiao go back down in weight if he loses, or do you think he will still attempt to fight at jr. welter or welterweight?

Vivek W. (ESB): I don't think there's much of a question here. If Pacquiao loses, he needs to go back down in weight, but that will be an interesting proposition. He has gone quite a substantial amount of time at the higher weight, and despite him always being in tremendous shape, it's no telling how well he'll adapt to going back down. I think physically, he's adjusted to the larger weight and shouldn't under any circumstances consider going below 135lbs. Some would argue 140lbs, but a devastating loss here will mean he'd have to go back to 135lbs at least because I don't know that Hatton is a harder puncher than guys like Kendall Holt, or Torres, or some of the other jr. welters out there now days.

Nedroy M. (Miami Lakes, FL): Many continue to talk down on Pacquiao's victory over Oscar De La Hoya. Do you think that fight was a true gauge of his ability to fight at a higher weight against bigger men?

Vivek W. (ESB): I'm a complete realist and I try to view everything based on facts. I've watched a considerable amount of fight footage on both men leading up to this showdown and the only thing I see on my piece of paper from the notes I took while analyzing the Pacquiao/ODH fight was a notation next to each of the few rounds it lasted that stated "Oscar was not very active". 5 rounds of the 8 on the scorecard I watched Pacquiao go through stretches where he landed 8, or 9 punches to 1 as a solid ratio. The final stats tell the tale as Pacman would be credited in the end of the fight with 195 punches to Oscar's mere 51. That leaves a horrible average per round for ODH and he didn't throw many more. I'm sorry, but when I see supporting stats/facts like that, there's no way that I could give Pacman the same credibility I would have had he defeated the same ODH that threw 587 punches against Mayweather two years ago. Some would say it was because Pacman was that much faster but realistically, he's not as fast as a Mayweather or Mosley, and neither of them were that successful against ODH, so nullifies that point. Pacquiao is one of my favorite fighters to watch in the post Mayweather era of the sport, but even his biggest fan has to concede that he didn't establish the same credibility above 130lbs facing guys like David Diaz and ODH, as opposed to him taking on say, guys like maybe a Juan Diaz or a gritty Nate Campbell who was the undisputed lightweight champ at the time. Not saying he wouldn't have beaten those guys, but they would have represented live bodies closer to their prime at the top of their game moreso than the two he selected which leaves room for his critics to question. Was it a great accomplishment? Absolutely. Was it a TRUE gauge of his ability to handle bigger fighters? Lets just say I think he still has that to prove.

(Tune in to this weeks countdown to Pacquiao/Hatton - with the schedule listed below):

Tue. - Manny Pacquiao - Evolution of a Legend (chronicles the rise to fame for the Filipino phenom)
Wed. - Ricky Hatton - Evolution of a Legend (chronicles the rise to fame for the U.K.'s favorite child)
Thu. - Pacquiao/Hatton - Great Moments of Adversity (a look at some of their key career defining fights)
Fri. - 'Call Em Out Fridays': Pacquiao/Hatton - Small Statures, Big Stakes
Sat. - Keys to victory, Four to explore, and Official fight prediction (strategy, four critical elements to watch for, and official prediction)

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

Article posted on 27.04.2009

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