Boxing

'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag feat. Pacquiao, Cotto, Steward, Jones jr., and more!

riddick boweRicardo L. (Miami Lakes, FL): Emanuel Steward recently spoke about his thoughts on Miguel Cotto and the fact that he thinks he could help Cotto againts Pacquiao. Do you think adding him is what Cotto really needs?

VW (ESB): Some have been pretty critical of Emanuel Steward lately because things went south with half of his former pupils (Cintron, Taylor, Lee, etc), but to put things in a proper perspective, it's no coincidence that the only fighter on his roster that had longevity as a champ is the one guy that is truly committed to his craft (Klitschko). Cintron, Lee, and Taylor all came close to doing big things and at least one of them did (Taylor), but they're all cut from the same cloth in the sense that that "S" word (sustain) has been their biggest issue, which once again points to their level of commitment. When you think about Steward joining Miguel, look at it like this.....no knocks on Evangelista, but Miguel Cotto has been a helluva talent WITHOUT THIS LEVEL of expertise, so rather than asking is it a good move, ask yourself HOW COULD IT HURT to add someone this fundamentally balanced with a keen eye for strategical mid-round adjustments? No, Steward can't do it alone, but Cotto is motivated, so he won't have to. People have a tendency to think a trainer can step in and turn a fighter from grim to gold, but just like we saw Phil Jackson's Chicago Bulls fail to reach the same peak when Jordan went to play baseball for a year, the same is true here. It takes the right strategical mind and the right executor to execute. Both have to be in place. We know Steward's knowledge will be there. Likewise, Cotto comes into this fight knowing that despite his recent loss and weak performances, a solid win over the sports P4P king and we'll all have alzheimer's, because tomorrow we won't remember anything! To answer your question, there could be no better time to add Steward to his camp. Cotto has a chip on his shoulder, he's eager to right all the wrongs, and he knows this opportunity will allow the world to see. Yes, Cotto needs Steward! Hope he's listening!

Jason Delos Reyes (Philippines): Who do you think is the better fighter - in regards to achievements? Floyd Mayweather jr. or Manny Pacquiao?

Vivek W. (ESB): Some would perceive this as a 'loaded' question, because it gives supremacy without equating to true supremacy. By that, I mean without any hesitations and I think even the hardcore Pacquiao faithful out there would agree that categorically, Pacquiao has evolved quite a bit, but he isn't quite THEE best fundamental fighter in the sport, like many have argued that Mayweather is. To take it a step further, I had a conversation with a Filipino fight fan recently who believes that Pacquiao isn't even the best Filipino fighter today (fundamentally), instead giving that nod to Donaire. But keep in mind, that's fundamental textbook boxing. Relative to achievements, I think Mayweather has done some great things but I certainly wouldn't argue with anyone who says and firmly believes that Pacquiao is the better ACHIEVEMENT fighter. Mayweather wasn't naturally as small as Pacquiao, therefore his journey to the top didn't start at the Flyweight level. It's simple logic, Pacquiao has 6 world titles in 6 different weight divisions, while Mayweather has 6 world titles in 5 weight divisions. Based on the numbers, Pacquiao wins. I don't think anyone thinking logically can dispute that. As of now, both men are at the equal number of world titles. The only thing is that Pacquiao had to take one extra challenge (in going up an extra weight class) to get there. So there it is. Simple as that.

Alden E. (Wales): Frank Warren wants to see Amir Khan face Timothy Bradley. How do you see such a fight going down?

VW (ESB): I'll say first that I'm part of that non-silent majority that feels Bradley has some unfinished business to settle with Campbell, but that being said, I think this would be a great fight. Khan has come on lately and proven his mettle to anyone willing to watch. He's shown guts, he's shown skill, he's shown speed, he's shown determination. I think he has finally evolved and he has Freddie Roach to thank. That being said, Bradly is a different type of challenge, and I'm not so sure that Khan escapes with a smile on his face like he has the last few times he entered the ring. I think Khan's height and athleticism would give Bradley a few challenges, but at the end of the day, it's really hard to call this fight without breaking down some fight footage and really looking at strategy. At first glance, I'd lean towards Bradley, but I couldn't rule out a Khan victory. Both men are finally coming into true form, and none of us have any idea where that evolution will take them next. Hope it happens - (after the Campbell rematch).

Luis O. (Hialeah, FL): Manny Pacquiao is about to do something that no other boxer has ever done (if he can win the 7th world title in a 7th different divison) but I'm not sold on him being the G.O.A.T. (greatest-of-all-time). If he does defeat Cotto, where would you rank him all-time?

Vivek (ESB): I touched on this a bit in a previous question, and to keep it short and simple, even in light of his recent accomplishments, I don't think anyone can place Pacquiao in the G.O.A.T. position, logically, categorically, or any other way. He has done some great things, but first off, you have to ask yourself, prior to the ODH and Ricky Hatton fights, where did he land on the G.O.A.T. list? Then follow that question with the fact that those were simply large promotional fights, but not truly the best 'test' fights, as it relates to his true worth. The Marquez fights were far more challenging than either the ODH or Hatton fight. He didn't win those two convincingly (if at all), so to place him (or even consider to) place him in the G.O.A.T. position as a result of defeating ODH and Hatton would be bananas. If Mayweather is subjected to this retort, so is Pacquiao. Mayweather defeated the same two guys (first), but even with the rest of his resume, that doesn't land him beyond contention as it relates to this high acclaim. The short answer to your question....with or without a defeat of Cotto, I can't place Pacquiao above Louis, Robinson, and Marciano, or even recent greats like Hopkins and a few others. Remember, when you're talking G.O.A.T., you're not talking just resume, you're talking fundamental, text book boxing. Someone slick with an extremely high ring IQ like a prime James Toney (in my estimation) possessed better pure boxing skills than we may ever see from Pacquiao. So, I'm not ready to make that statement now and I'm not sure that I ever will be. Lets judge this body of work when the book is closed.

Sam W. (Covina, CA): I'm a huge fan of Roy Jones Jr. and will tune in when he faces Jeff Lacy. With a victory in that fight, do you think he can land back in the mainstream?

VW (ESB): You have to remember, I tend to be a black sheep of the boxing scribe world, and like most other topics, my position on Roy Jones Jr. isn't quite the same as everyone elses. I said before and I still maintain....Jones lost against a man who in Calzaghe who was able to nullify his speed by throwing a 100 punches a round. It's hard to rely on reflexes and your own speed when you have to be constantly on the defensive based on incoming shots fired. Jones had a very similar loss to Johnson and Tarver just happened to land a flush shot, but against anyone else in the division, particularly fighters that try to actually box, I have no question Roy Jones jr. can still be as effective as we once seen him. Not early 90's type effective, but today's older Jones at 85% is still more purely talented than 95% of what's out there. I think he has to respect Lacy's power, but his speed will make it a very easy fight. Short of the KO's/losses to Johnson and Tarver, or the loss to Calzaghe, you would be hard-pressed to point out any other time in recent history that he even technically loss a scoring round, and that's due to the fact that he's still a notch above much of today's talent, so for me to jump on him because he lost a few fights....Naw, I'd let the easily led boxing pundits subscribe to that theory. I have a different song to sing. To answer your question, yes, he can land back in title contention. He may not win, but he can certainly get there - whether many people like it or not.

(Vivek Wallace can be reached at vivexemail@yahoo.com, 954-292-7346, Facebook, Myspace, Youtube (Vivek1251), Twitter, and www.vivekwallace.com)

Article posted on 10.08.2009



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