'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's mailbag feat. Pacquiao, Mayweather, Vitali-K, Tua, and Judah!

Manny PacquiaoHector S. (San Francisco): With news of the recent problems in Pacquiao's camp I'm beginning to believe that he's more beatable now than he ever has been in the past. Do you think this will be the fight that things will finally catch up with him?

Vivek W. (ESB): Seems like every fight Pacquiao is being made out to be this greatly "distracted" fighter on the brink of a bursting bubble, only to see him come out on fight night and burst his opponents (bubble). According to the distant sources I've spoken to, what has happened thus far in the sparring sessions has more to do with a fighter still trying to find a certain level of sharpness that isn't easy to reach to begin with. Roach was recently quoted as saying that he would estimate Pacquiao as being at roughly 40%. Now, there are two ways to interpret that. Some would say, "wow, he has a long way to go", while others may say "well, 40% of Pacquiao is far better than many other men who stand at the top of their game". A certain level of truth lies in both statements. Remember, this is the biggest fight of Pacquiao's career, even more so than Hatton or Oscar because it pairs him against a man who poses a triple threat in every sense of the word.. Miguel Cotto is in his prime, he has a major chip on his shoulder, and he's far more powerful than anyone Pacquiao has ever faced. That truth in and of itself provides more than enough reason for Roach to seek a standard from Pacquiao that far exceeds any of the past. 40% at this early stage of training may have been enough before, wherein now, it barely scratches the surface of where they need (or want) to be ultimately. I have absolute confidence in Pacquiao and Roach that come fight night we'll see the best Pacquiao we've ever seen, but what we see playing out now is all the things that made Roach apprehensive about training there in the Philippines in the first place. Ultimately, there may be some truth to the rumors of Pacquiao not being as sharp as many would like, but one way or the other, I expect that we will all see Pacquiao step up, yet again. The operative question here, is will he 'step up' when he needs to?, or will he 'step up' as a result of first being knocked down? That's what we're all tuning in to find out, and that's why we all love the sport. Stay tuned.

Rick J. (Queens, NYC): I hear that Zab Judah is about to get back in the ring soon. Do you think that he has much of a future left, or do you view him as just a stepping stone for others on the rise?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think, and have always said that regarding Judah, he can do whatever it is that he wants to, if he only disciplines himself and take his craft serious. Some may ask, "who am I to judge"? And they're right, but as I see it, the only thing that separates Judah and Mayweather (arguably the best in the biz) is discipline. I have always felt that Judah possessed some of the very same skills, he just lacks that same level of discipline, both in and out of the ring. One example that comes to mind immediately was when the two fought and the melee broke out. When Judah jumped in the melee and began to assist his corner in the fisticuffs, Mayweather stood in a distant corner and never flinched a muscle, watching everyone in the arena burn precious energy with anxiety. When the fight resumed, a still anxious Zab Judah never regained his earlier form and the total dynamics of the fight changed drastically from that point on. Time and time again, Judah has demonstrated a lack of discipline and if he ever turns the corner on that trend, I have zero doubt that Judah can have his place in today's fight game. He has the power, he certainly has the speed, and contrary to popular belief, he has a better chin than he once got credit for as well. So, I expect to see some great things there if he's well prepared. If not, it'll be the same ole song.

Emanuel L. (Los Angeles, CA): David Tua looked impressive in his recent bout with Cameron. Do you think that he can make a push in the heavyweight division today?

Vivek W. (ESB): David Tua, in my most humble observation, has three things that every fighter at the top needs. Power, heart, and determination. Now, that being said, he also may lack a few things that the champs at the top have in the heavyweight division today, as well. Speed being at the top of that list. Tua isn't slow by any standards, but with his style and punch rate, I just think it would be very hard for him to ever get a decisive points victory over any of the guys running the division today because (in the case of the K-Bros.) they pick their spots and have the range to keep him off balance more so than he (having a far shorter range) would be able to do or keep them off balance. Fundamentally, I think both Klitschko's are far superior, but considering that Tua has a granite chin, if he can withstand a little heat and work his way in to land some of his own, it could make for an interesting night. He has some key attributes, and more importantly, with 54 fights under his belt, he has the experience to deal with being less talented, to a degree. I don't know what the future holds, but I would certainly tune in if he ever got another shot at the big leagues again, for anything could happen.

Stanley R. (Tampa, FL): After a week of reading your perspective and talking to a few others I can somewhat understand your theory about the whole weight/size argument. My only thing I need clarification on would be the height issue. Can you expand on that briefly.

Vivek W. (ESB): If there was one sentence in that entire piece that I could take back, the one dealing with height would be the one. Everyone who has served as a critic of my perspective has made that sentence the centerpiece of their rebuttal, and I find it a bit amusing because at the end of the day, it had the least to do with my point. Not once have I, or will I ever fancy a height based division, so please, bury that garbage with the rest of yesterdays trash. At the end of the day, you have to look at the fighters involved and make an unbiased assessment to fully understand my view. Vitali and Floyd Mayweather in many ways share the same problem (if you really want to call it that). The only difference is that one man is viewed as having superior skills, while critics continuously say the other enjoys an unfair size advantage over his opponents. A perfect example of this can be found in doing a simple word play. For example.....If I were to say "fighter A" was bigger than "Fighter B", and he's a typical safety first fighter so he was able to use his skills to avoid ever getting hit flush, while at the same time landing with almost every shot he threw.....The fight was so boring and I wonder if "Fighter A" would do the same against someone his own size"! If I read that scenario to critics of both men and gave them a multiple choice, literally NO ONE could tell me who I was referring to because those are critical views shared by those who dislike both men. The only difference is that one is a heavyweight, where opponents are supposed to willfully concede the size issue; while the other is a welterweight where such size advantages are viewed as unfair. Also, one has a tendency to hug when an opponent closes in, while the other uses skills to create space. With that said, we can't say skills for one, size for the other. Both men have skills, and if we aren't gonna organize a super-heavyweight division to nullify the advantages one man carries in nearly every fight, we can't take away from the skills of another, because both men are fighting the same fight in the same sport. As Joshua Clottey recently pointed out, the smaller man "knows that they're gonna be smaller when they sign the contract to fight". Not to say size doesn't matter, I just think people need to recognize when skills matter the most.

Kennedy L. (Ft. Lauderdale, FL): At the welterweight level, in their prime, who do you think wins a fight between Felix 'Tito' Trinidad and the Antonio Margarito that we saw against Miguel Cotto?

Vivek W. (ESB): At first glance, I think many would say Trinidad, but despite being a HUGE Trinidad fan, I can't make that judgment so easily. Yes, we just saw Mosley dismantle Margarito, but that was with a game-plan from one of the best in the game today, and it was executed by a man who has a totally different skill-set. Trinidad isn't as fast as Mosley, so some of those shots Mosley avoided would have landed on him.I think it would have honestly been a war of attrition. I know people discount Margarito because of the whole 'wrap-gate' scandal, but well before that I fancied his will to win and to quote Mosley's trainer, Nazim Richardson, there's a lot to be said when a guy can "eat your best shot like skittles" and walk right through them. I don't know that Trinidad was as powerful as Mosley, and I just think that fight could have gone either way. That's one I would have loved to watch, personally.

(Vivek Wallace can be reached at, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace)

Article posted on 06.10.2009

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