Boxing

'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Pacquiao, Mayweather, Valero, and Mosley

ValeroArdley W. (North Miami Beach, FL): Edwin Valero's victory was pretty interesting. Did you think he lived up to the hype and the Pacquiao comparisons?

Vivek W. (ESB): I can now officially say this....."I'm a fan"! I have seen Valero on video quite a bit as I studied him in the past after hearing all of the buzz, but I must say, seeing him live did a little something for me. I don't see the Pacquiao comparisons, outside of the fact that both men are relatively small and have very good power, though. Actually, (as odd as this may sound), fundamentally, he showed a little more than Pacquiao at this stage of his evolution. He doesn't rely on his chin as much. Pacquiao, (similar to Mosley), will take a slew of shots to land a few. Valero was very much adept at slipping punches and he has that nifty move where he actually puts his off-hand up to cover his chin when he does it. What I noticed though - as it relates to him getting hit - when he does, he actually takes it very well. There was one misconception of him that I heard and feel compelled to speak on. It was stated that he was tired because he was "fighting with his mouth open". In breaking down footage, he has ALWAYS done this, but he never seems to wear down. I think in an odd way, it's just something he has grown accustomed to doing.. Overall, I must say, I was very impressed. His punch groups were very effective, he didn't make the mistake that many power punchers make trying to land hay-makers with every shot, he set them up, and he did a number of other things that showed me he has a great future. All of that, and I didn't even address the nasty cut that he fought through without blinking an eye (pun intended). So, I tip my hat to him. The lightweight division is one of the deepest in the sport, and his addition makes it even more fun to watch. Funeka and a few others would make for a great fight with him, but Arum has already began to eye Timothy Bradley, and that's a fight that I'd endorse at the drop of a dime. Great gauge match for both men. Now that he's the champ, I hope we see some of these fights.

Robert W. (Atlanta, GA): In my opinion, Floyd Mayweather jr. has been carefully matched his entire career. Many members of the media continue to preach about how "amazing" he is, and I think you're one of them. What do you see that so I don't?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think this observation goes back to the same principles that I always speak of. It all comes down to who you are, what you like, and who you like to listen to. I don't make a conscious effort to debate fight fans who feel the way you do, but in response to your question, I have one for you, first. Before the emergence of Pacquiao, who can you say, unequivocally, was the bona fide P4P king of the sport? If it was anyone other than Mayweather, I'd like to know who that person is and why you felt he was? The reason that I point that question out is because we all know that Mayweather is the man that everyone loves to hate. That's undisputed, even if you feel he isn't. Bearing that in mind, the emergence of Pacquiao and the hate for Mayweather make people quickly forget that EVERY scribe on the planet had Mayweather rated there, with Hopkins a very distant second for the longest. The reason that Mayweather has been replaced in the minds of many by Pacquiao has to do with his gutsy nature (which is subjective), and his resume (which is applicable), but neither have anything to do with pure fundamentals - which is why Mayweather held the position in everyones mind for so long. The reason that I took this approach in answering your question is because Mayweather earned that reputation, not only by having pure fundamentals, but by defeating a trail of fighters that we all obviously felt were pretty good - (or we would have never regarded him so highly). We can all dispute his welterweight tenure, but prior to that, Jesus Chavez (who I would say was equivalent to today's Clottey - being under the radar but clearly above the rim), an undefeated Hatton, an undefeated Corrales (RIP), Baldomir who had defeated Judah and was the lineal champion, Angel Manfredy, a young Corley, and the list goes on. I'm not quite sure how long you've followed the sport and I can respect you being a relative newcomer, but before the welterweight division, Mayweather solidified his position as the sports P4P king in the minds of everyone asked.

Paul O. (Los Angeles, CA): Shane Mosley has admittedly used performance enhancing drugs in the past and few even mention it, yet Pacquiao has never been officially linked and has to walk around on eggshells. Why is Mosley allowed to continue fighting while Margarito was suspended and both are guilty of wrong-doings?

Vivek W. (ESB): The key to this whole scenario hinges on two things. For starters, Margarito was caught with his hands in the cookie jar.....literally; wherein with the Mosley case, (to my understanding), the time when he was using those substances, they weren't actually banned in the sport. They were still totally under the radar, and an investigation led to the discovery, and Mosley was honorable enough to testify on the matter. Now, the court of public opinion is what it is, which is why someone like Pacquiao who has NEVER been officially linked to substances can still find himself under great scrutiny, despite his official innocence until proven guilty. A great point of contention here is that the man whose allegations of usage was clearly confirmed has chose to support an effort to ensure clean competitors, (by way of randomized testing); while the man who is alleged to be using without proof has opted not to. Bottomline, as similar as the cases seem, they're actually the opposite. I say that in the sense that this all hinges on two varying perspectives. Pacquiao attempted to handle his matter in the 'court' that probably didn't really matter the most (legally), rather than addressing it in the court that may very well matter the most (public opinion). Mosley on the other hand handled his matter in the court that did matter the most (legally), leaving very little to talk about in the court that to him no longer matters the most (public opinion). Despite the heavy wordplay there, the lighter side of this topic is that both men (Mosley and Pacquiao) were (are) free to continue their respective careers wherein the true violator (Margarito) wasn't
so lucky.

Alton S. (Hallandale Beach, FL): Freddie Roach recently stated that he doesn't find Pacquiao to be the best fighter he has worked with, instead pointing to guys like Toney and Tyson. Is there still an underlying rift with Freddie Roach and Pacquiao that many of us felt had died down?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think this is another example of what makes Freddie, Freddie. There were times during the whole Mayweather/Pacquiao fiasco that I thought Roach left his integrity back in the gym, but I have always maintained that this is the most humble, sincere man you will find in the industry. I don't think for a second that he made this statement out of ill fate or anything out of sorts. I think it was a rather honest assessment, and one that Pacquiao himself has alluded to. In Tyson, you had a fighter who was once extremely fundamental, and even when he began to lose those fundamentals, his fierce nature, style, and pure mystique made him an instant threat that left opponents in fear. Never in the history of the sport have we seen a fighter win so many fights before he ever stepped in the ring. In James Toney, despite the extra
padding he wears around now days, I don't think anyone with true boxing knowledge can disagree that he is arguably one the most fundamental fighter fighters of all-time. As Roach stated himself, "the guy just knows how to fight". So when you look at the whole, not just an aggregate of it, the reality is that (to use Pacquiao's words) "If I compare myself to other [great] fighters, Manny Pacquiao is really not as good. I win because I am very dedicated, my relationship with God is close, and I focus and discipline myself". That sentence from his very own mouth attest to the fact that Pacquiao's ascent in the sport is largely based on heart, spirit, and effort. None of us can mistake that categorically, he is the undisputed leader in those areas. Fundamentals.....well, he gets hit a lot, has a tendency to throw looping punches (which worked against him against a precision puncher like Marquez), and does other things that fighters are taught not to do. That being
said, Roach was totally accurate in his assessment, and the only ones that fail to see that are the ones that look at the object rather than the big picture that holds it. Pacquiao is the most amazing specimen the sport has seen in years, but fundamentally, Roach only acknowledged what many already knew.

Harold R. (Norfolk, VA): What do you make of Shane Mosley saying that Margarito should get his boxing license back?

Vivek W. (ESB): To be perfectly honest, I found his rather unconditional support a bit mystifying as well. He's never taken a hard lined approach about Margarito's scenario one way or the other in the past, so perhaps we shouldn't feel this way because it's not like he suddenly changed. That being said, like yourself, I do struggle to comprehend why he has gone public with this support, considering that he was the one that would have been on the receiving end of this weapon had it not been for his trainer. To play devils advocate, I could remind fight fans that he had been a bit frustrated with GBP for quite a while for not securing him a marquee showdown prior to the Mayweather bout, and
decided to endorse Arum's guy as an under-the-table gesture supporting his alleged interest in crossing the fence. As intriguing as that sounds, it's purely speculative, but not a thought to be ruled out, totally in any way. Truth is, I'd like to say it was a number of other things, but aside from this speculation, nothing else makes sense. It's no secret that Mosley wasn't too happy, but this shot at Mayweather may be precisely what the doctor ordered.

(Vivek Wallace can be reached at vivexemail@yahoo.com, 954-292-7346, YouTube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).

Article posted on 09.02.2010



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