'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Mailbag Featuring Pacquiao, Dawson, Tarver, Williams and Valero!

Manny PacquiaoThis weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' shines the spotlight on a set of very intriguing fighters, as well as the buzz surrounding them which lately have given many around the sport something to talk about. After last Saturday's showdown between Chad Dawson and Antonio Tarver, needless to say the two of them made the mailbag as we ponder what the road ahead may contain for each. After honing in on those two as well as Valero, Miranda and Ward, we take a stab at the big leagues, visiting a few topics surrounding today's pound-for-pound king, Manny Pacquiao, and a man walking a similar path, Paul Williams. So, with no further ado, we jump into the mix by taking it to the streets of the boogie down Bronx, where a fight fan wanted to know the following:

Tavis H. (Bronx, NY): How would you grade Chad Dawson's performance against Antonio Tarver last Saturday night?

Vivek W. (ESB): When I watched the fight in real time I felt it wasn't his best performance. When I went back and watched it again (thank God for DVR) I was able to decipher more and really grasp what it was that he was doing.. Unfortunately, even after a second and third review - where I was able to rewind, fast forward, and completely analyze - I still felt that despite the victory, it didn't grade out as the type of performance that would lead fans to demand a Hopkins match, and definitely not the type of performance to get Calzaghe off of his couch back in Wales. Now, to his credit, he was fighting a dangerous opponent in Tarver who had never lost a rematch and was visibly much more prepared than the first encounter, so that has to be factored in. That being said, I just felt something simply lacked. I would have liked to see far more explosiveness than I did. Had he asserted himself more, he could have not only won decisively, but perhaps even land a well needed career boasting KO. One major question mark I walked away with was his stamina. I felt like he showed flashes of Jermain Taylor - as in a guy who has great talent, but for some reason, the gas in his tank evaporates quicker than the gauge tells us it should. I have seen that a few times from him now. Hearing Max Kellerman address this at the end of the fight let me know that my vision wasn't blurry on the matter. He just seemed too far winded at a point where one would expect to see a strong fighter in his prime deliver the goods. I like Dawson, but clearly, my antenna is up. I think the performance showed improvement in some areas but also left great room for improvement in others. I'll be watching to see how he evolves from here.

Jacquez E. (Hollywood, FL): Who do you like in the Ward/Miranda fight next week?

Vivek W. (ESB): Based on pure talent, I like Ward. Unfortunately for him - and many others - it's not always the most talented fighter to get the nod in the end. Talent can be quickly nullified by power and that's what will decide this fight. If Ward doesn't have the ability to withstand the power that comes from the fist of Miranda, Edison's work rate and power will eventually lead to a victory, maybe even a KO. I think it should be a very good fight and I can't count either man out, but I truly think it all comes down to how well Ward can handle Miranda's power. If Ward can handle his power I fully expect him to win on points. If he can't it's gonna be a long-short night for Ward. Stay tuned.

Jeff S. (Orlando, FL): What do you think the future holds for Antonio Tarver after losing to Dawson again?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think his future - as it relates to being in the ring - is not too grand after suffering the loss to Dawson. Similar to what I said about Jones after the Calzaghe fight, styles make fights, and I don't think for a second that Tarver is nearly as bad as he looked in shades of the fight. Many other opponents would have caught pure hell against The same Tarver that failed to mount a true attack against Dawson last Saturday night. The troubles for Tarver all lie in the fact that at age 40 and on a steady decline, few would be slow enough to actually lose to him on points. I thought Tarver looked very slow in the ring, and as much as I like his presence in the sport, I'd have to agree with those that feel he'd be a none factor against those that count in the light heavy division. He isn't gonna go down in weight, the cruiser weight division has NOTHING worth pairing him up with if he decided to go up, and attempting a run at the heavyweight division would be a suicide letter written in his very own blood, sweat, and tears! I think he has been good for the sport in some respects, but right now, I just don't see any viable options for him. I guess we'll have to see what materializes going forward.

Edgar A. (Dallas, TX): Do you think Edwin Valero will ever get a chance to fight with Manny Pacquiao? And if so, who do you think wins that fight?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think the Valero/Pacquiao fight would have been absolute fire! The more I see Valero and the more he fights, the more improvement I see from him. Unfortunately for Valero, he entered the equation after Pacquiao's ascent to the top was well into flight. Valero doesn't have the type of time on his hands that would be required to get Pacquiao in the ring. It took Pacquiao many years to get where he is today, and Valero's resume is no where near as defined. I find it hard to believe that Valero will do enough to attract international attention to him as a legitimate contender to Pacquiao. Not to be mistaken, he is worthy based on talent and I think he would actually give Pacquiao a stiff test, but in this business, the ability to put cheeks in seats is equally as important, and that's a battle Valero loses all day long. I won't get into predicting who wins such a fight but I will say that it's highly doubtful we will EVER see this showdown go down!

Mario R. (Miami Lakes, FL): Manny Pacquiao gets big praise for going from division to division taking on good fighters, but I think Paul Williams has done the same thing, yet he gets little recognition. What are your thoughts on this?

Vivek W. (ESB): Two years ago in a year ending accolades dedication I listed Paul Williams as the 'Dark Horse' in the sport who would eventually make himself relevant in more ways than one. Last year I attempted to raise a similar question to yours about him doing something that is unprecedented by skimming through a number of divisions and basically holdin' it down! I still feel that what he has done has been absolutely and unequivocally remarkable, but at this point, I think you have to admit that Pacquiao has come a long way as well. When I wrote those other two articles, Pacquiao was still making his way up the super-featherweight ladder. Fast forward a couple years and he [Pacquiao] has gone on to defeat some highly notables in those other weight classes and remember, he kicked his party off at 106lbs! When you look at the total body of work, Pacquiao has done more, and technically, has done it longer. That being said, he has also had opportunities that Williams has failed to land. It's a bit unfair to even try to parallel the two when I think about it because Pacquiao was able to land mega fights with guys along his journey, wherein Williams has been totally avoided, and has been fighting for a shorter period of time. Considering how badly Williams has been avoided, I think it's amazing that we can even place him in the same sentence with Pacquiao. Based on many different variables, I don't think we can compare legacies - as Pacquiao would get that nod ALL DAY LONG - but the one thing that these two men do have in common that I think speak the spirits of both is the fact that neither believes in ducking ANYONE. I sure as hell wish everyone else in the sport felt that way!

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

Article posted on 11.05.2009

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