'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat.: Pacquiao, Porter, Hopkins/Haye, and Pavlik/Trinidad!
Lester N. (Long Beach, CA): I find Pacquiao to be a product of perfect match making. He has good power but the fighters he beat who gave him his legendary status were not good measuring bars. Oscar was weight drained, Hatton wasn't that good, David Diaz wasn't too good, and Cotto hasn't been the same after Margarito. Would you agree?
Article posted on 22.02.2010
Vivek W. (ESB): I'd have to initially disagree with your insight, in the sense that Barrera, Morales, and Marquez (albeit questionable) were probably the victories that gave us reason to consider him amongst that pantheon of great talent, rather than the others you mentioned. Aside from that, this question really comes down to how you personally choose to view things. While I think we can find reason to make a strong debate using your assessment, the reality is that he soundly defeated every man his promoter placed in front of him, so how much can we really blame him? Pavlik was said to have a few health related issues leading up to the Hopkins matchup, but none of us considered taking away the credit from good ole 'Pop'-kins based on Pavlik not being at full strength (if that was even true).. Also, Margarito had been scared stiff only moments before facing Mosley, yet in the end analysis, we all still agreed that it was Mosley's best performance - possibly to date - regardless of this mental shakeup that Margarito suffered. Case in point......I don't think I know a fighter in history who has defeated practically EVERY fighter they faced, with each of those fighters having a 'perfect' night while at the top of their game. Ali didn't do it. Tyson didn't do it. Calzaghe retired undefeated and his biggest wins came against fighters whose name recognition stood far taller than their current abilities (in the minds of some), yet he was never criticized on a grand scale, either. So, just as these men got their 'free-passes', so should Pacquiao. May not be right in the eyes of some, but fair is fair. I won't shoot down certain critical arguments as they relate to him, like "he should have faced Campbell" (who was the undisputed lightweight champ), or he "should have faced Cotto at his natural weight", because those type of arguments do boast a hint of truth; but aside from that circle of questions, I think everything else is probably sour grapes, mixed between denial and unanswered questions relative to his use of banned substances.
Michael L. (Atlanta, GA): There's discussion of Bernard Hopkins facing David Haye if he defeats Roy Jones Jr. Do you think that he would stand a chance against him?
Vivek W. (ESB): Absolutely. I continue to hear people say that they don't think he can do too well against Haye, but truthfully, as much promise as Haye shows, his level of experience categorically places him in the same realm as many of these other prospect fighters we see now days. What has helped his evolution - as it relates to him not really looking inexperienced - is his power. But my point is that when you get beyond that relative power and ask yourself how well he'd look if he can't land it effectively, that's when the truth comes out. The man that was able to defeat Haye in his only pro loss (Carl Thompson) was not a world beater. As a matter of fact, some would even say that he was a journeyman, solidified by the less-than-stellar record he had at the time (32-6). Leading up to the Hopkins/Pavlik fight, as part of my pro-Hopkins prediction in the fight I pointed out the fact that Hopkins' ring experience could never be trumped by a man who had so little rounds boxed and so few trips beyond the 9th round (once in his career at the time). The same experience I mentioned then was the key critical fact in deciding the outcome of that fight, as clearly the younger Pavlik had everything else in his favor. Well.....consider this.....at age 29 and in what some would view as the pinnacle of his career, Haye has only boxed 90 rounds in his entire pro career. 90!!!!!!!!!!! Does Hopkins have a chance in this fight? I'll let you answer that one, as I have no question whatsoever that he can not only make a good account for himself, but win it rather easily. We've never seen Hopkins bruised, hurt, or buzzed, and Haye is little more than a cruiserweight with the ability to compete on a heavyweight level. Just like Hopkins. There's no bizarre element like we see with the Klitschko's or Valuev - relative to their height. So, Haye would be just another 6-2, powerful fighter that has to overcome years of inexperience and a crafty veteran who's seen it all. A very tall order for the talented Haye. Trust me.
Alonzo M. (Norfolk, VA): I thought Shawn Porter looked alright against Russell Jordan, but I think he has a long way to go before we can really get excited about him. How did you rate his performance?
Vivek W. (ESB): I've heard quite a few fight fans take a rather critical approach relative to Porter's recent fight with Russell and while I agree with some of the comments made, I think you really have to step back and take his effort for what it was.......which was a young prospect doing what we should expect from all prospects.....win, while learning on the job. Some efforts will be greater than others and even though some prospects have a way of making things look like the proverbial 'rose garden', we have to remember that every rose comes equipped with its fair share of thorns. For starters, he was facing a veteran southpaw. Either one of those elements can cause problems (veterans or southpaws) but the southpaw element in and of itself is a very tough challenge for a young fighter. Few ever speak of this story to date, but for the sake of making a point, now's a good time to re-hash it. Floyd Mayweather jr - a man we all agree is the best fundamental fighter in the sport today - had such a rough outing in his early day with a southpaw that his Father was prompted to call from prison, telling his handlers "don't you ever put my son in the ring with another southpaw again"! Mayweather never encountered another one until he faced Corley, who subsequently buzzed him as well. To date, he may be better off against them, but it took years and years of both practice and patience. So hopefully for Porter, it's another lesson learned. Aside from that growing pain, Porter was headlining a card in his very own hometown, which adds anxiety for anyone with a pulse, and to top things off, he was facing a man who held an advantage in every major category from height, to reach, to experience, etc. So these things have to be considered. If I could choose one thing to change, it would probably be a consideration to fight at 147lbs. If I had to agree with the critics on one thing I would ask him to reduce the bouncing that he can't seem to shake, but hey, the sports P4P king (Pacquiao) happens to be a likely source of this 'bad habit', (as they have been sparring partners for a bit now), yet it hasn't seemed to slow him down one bit. So, long story short, lets go further in this 'book' before we decide it's time to put it down.
Tavares F. (Miami, FL): I find Dallas to be a very poor location for the Pacquiao/Clottey showdown. What are your thoughts on Top Rank staging the fight there?
Vivek W. (ESB): Before I respond to the question, I'll start by saying that Dallas is a city that I love and have visited a hand full of times with great pleasure. That being said, some places are good for fun, other places are good for boxing. Dallas?.........I don't personally find Dallas to be great for boxing, if you are like me in the sense that you love the festive Vegas type atmosphere where everything is centrally located. When you look at the details surrounding this fight, the proof is in the fight week lineup, where according to Arum, he had to stage the open workouts at the hotel the fighters live in rather than the fight venue itself because "there's no gym within 30 miles" to do it at. It's a bit of a contradiction because I think the venue itself is easily the best location a fight could be staged at (new Cowboys stadium), but the location itself has "logistic nightmare" written all over it. For those traveling to the city for the first time, my recommendation would be to be sure you have sound rental car plans and maybe even a great GPS system. To answer your question.....amazing venue.....poor location (for a fight).
Xavier A. (Miami Lakes, FL): Who would you give the nod to in a fight between a prime Kelly Pavlik and a prime Felix Trinidad at a catchweight of 158lbs?
Vivek W. (ESB): At first sight, physically, it would appear to have been an intriguing matchup, with both men being comparable in height, ability to take a punch, and great punching power, but when you get beyond the obvious, I think a few things have to be considered. For starters, Trinidad started career as a jr. welterweight, spent a majority of his career at the welterweight level, then went up to jr. middleweight in March of 2000. A full 10 years after he started in the sport. That kind of tells me that we would have had to question whether the power he was gonna bring up could truly rival that which would have been rather natural to Pavlik. All things remaining equal, I think the fight would truthfully be a pick 'em fight. Neither man uses any type of defense. Both relied strongly on their ability to break a fighter down with power and effort. I don't really know how anyone can choose a definitive winner between the two in hindsight. My gut says Trinidad, my mind says Pavlik, based on natural size and a pretty sturdy chin. One other thing to consider is "when would you say Trinidad was in his prime"? I personally felt his prime was his welterweight years, but that would have made him too small for this matchup. When he would have been big enough to take part in this fight, (jr. middlweight), to me wasn't part of his better years, as the only notable person he defeated in that frame was Vargas. Was Trinidad good as a jr. middleweight? Yes, but good enough to beat Pavlik? I Guess we'll never know! Me personally, I have a hard time calling that one.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at email@example.com, 954-292-7346, YouTube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).
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