'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Khan, Mayweather/Pacquiao, Campbell, Haye, Ortiz, and more!
Leo C. (Bronx, NYC): What were your thoughts about Amir Khan's victory and where do you think it places him among the bigger names in the jr. welterweight division?
Article posted on 18.05.2010
Vivek W. (ESB): The last time Amir and I crossed paths I told him that he "has the talent to go as far as he wants, it's simply a matter of his level of dedication and how he applies it". At the time it seemed like the right thing to say, and seeing him last Saturday night tells me that I couldn't have been any more accurate, as I firmly believe this kid has all the tools necessary to rise to the top. Unfortunately, he wasn't tested too much in the Malignaggi fight, so we still haven't had the 'chinny' question answered. But that being said, he has not only shown great resolve in bouncing back since his KO loss a few fights ago, but he has also shown vast improvement along the way.
As far as how Khan stacks up against the division's elite, I think things get a bit more complex when you make that the focal point.. Malignaggi has been a great fighter of the past, but at this moment in time, I don't think it's fair to say he presents the same challenge some of the others will. Maidana is strong, physical, and has a great work rate, but even he can be outboxed, because he isn't as fast or fundamentally sound as Khan is. Bradley, I think brings a great power-boxing forte with better speed than Maidana, but again, fundamentally, he can be exploited against a man like Khan if Khan is executing flawlessly. Alexander?........now that's where the true questions begin. I wouldn't say Bradley and Maidana couldn't beat Khan, but if Khan executes, he has the tools, the range, the speed, and the intangibles to get the nod over any of them. I'm just not so sure about Alexander.
Alexander is the ultimate equal here.....as he not only has the speed and fundamentals, but also the defense to slip punches, and the toughness to keep coming when they do occasionally land. To be honest, I'd love to see Khan face someone like Urango next. Someone he will definitely get the nod against, but also someone who will press him by walking through his shots, and occasionally landing some of those looping bombs that will further test that chin. Once Khan proves he can get past a 'bull' like that, (which I expect he will), I'd like to see him face a Maidana, or even a Bradley. But as far as Alexander goes......I'd keep Khan out of the ring with him until it's absolutely necessary.
Alex F. (London): Which British boxer do you think will be more decorated in the end between Amir Khan and David Haye?
Vivek W. (ESB): Oddly enough, I think these two men are currently one in the same. From their records (Haye 24-1, 22KO's/Khan 23-1, 17KO's), to their professional rounds boxed (Haye 99/Khan 106), nearly everything matches. To take it a step further, it goes deeper than that. Both are tremendously talented.....both fast.....both powerful (Haye more so)....and both very proud of their country. Now that we've gotten the good stuff out of the way, lets be real, too, for a sec.....both of them also have yet-to-be-answered questions about their chin durability, and this could ultimately dictate which of them will go further. Also, in this era we learn that multiple weight classes come into play when you speak of legacy. From that angle, things are equal as well, although it may seem a bit deceptive. Khan made a minor splash as a lightweight before moving up and earning a true strap, but Haye practically conquered the entire cruiserweight division and unified it.
That being said, since moving up, Khan has faced Kotelnik, Salita, and Malignaggi, while most would argue that Haye has yet to face anyone comparable to either, particularly Malignaggi. I'd be compelled to support that theory. In the end, there's no true way to forecast who will do what in the future, but I think Khan is more equipped to deal with his landscape than Haye is. No question, a 5'10", 71-inch reach bearing, fast, powerful, and skilled jr. welterweight is much better prepared for his level of competition than a 6'3", 78-inch bearing, fast, powerful, and skilled heavyweight who will have to get the job done against men 6'6", 81-inch, fast, thunderous punching super-heavyweight, or bigger. Especially when you consider that these men have absolutely dominated the landscape since the departure of Lennox Lewis.
Jasper W. (Dallas, TX): I remember some of your critical comments of Victor Ortiz after the Maidana showdown. In your mind, did he repair his image as a fighter "without heart"?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think the final score on the scorecard last Saturday night displayed exactly how much Ortiz proved. I would like to say that he laid a sound fundamental block to build on, but I don't think anyone can say unequivocally that he proved enough to elevate himself to a top-tier level. Yes, he added a solid veteran to his resume, but I still can't say he established himself as elite. It's always funny to hear the before/after dialogue in this business. Some in the media will talk a man down, (in this case it was Campbell), yet want to give the one they support major credit for a victory against a man they never gave a chance to begin with. Prior to the fight people said Campbell was "old", "inconsistent", and all sorts of stuff; now they want to say Ortiz proved himself elite. It can't be both ways. The reality is that Ortiz simply wasn't tested enough to declare the 'heart' questions a thing of the past. Trouble for him is that in this deep division, the next step is always a dangerous one. We'll see what happens next!
Chris B. (Deerfield Beach, FL) You reported a few weeks ago that the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight would take place on November 13. Shortly after that, Arum stated that would be the tentative date, but now it seems things have stalled again. Are their any new developments in the possible showdown to your knowledge?
Vivek W. (ESB): To be truthful, I don't think anyone knows. When initially told that this fight would take place on November 13th, presumably at the MGM Grand, (approximately 2wks ago), I was apprehensive to even report it because I hadn't heard it ANYWHERE ELSE. A full week after reporting it, Arum finally came out and said that that was in fact his target date/location, and that things were being hashed out, yet Ellerbe came out and later said they "weren't thinking about Pacquiao".
To complicate things even more, despite the video saying that he "wanted to help clean the sport up" and all of this stuff, Team Pacquiao later said that their position hadn't changed and there would be no movement in their 24day proposition. What I hope has happened here is that, (like they said initially), Arum and Schaefer have decided to work this out 'under the table' before stepping up to the plate to dish it out. In a perfect world, the two sides are hashing things out in a private fashion, but honestly, no one really knows right now. All we can do is hope this thing happens, as we still have time.
Andre T. (Miami Gardens, FL): I thought Nate Campbell looked outside of himself last Saturday night. Do you think it's time for him to hang them up?
Vivek W. (ESB): When it comes to Campbell's future in the sport, I've never been an advocate of telling a man when to hang his gloves up, because when those bills hit the mailbox, they bear one name. Not mine, not yours, not your Mother's. They say "Nate Campbell"......and Nate has a family to provide for. Like any other job or any other employee, if he meets the requirements to perform the job, who in their right mind could even TRY to tell him to hang 'em up, based on them personally not wanting to see him? Barrera, Morales, and many others continue to lace up gloves and never get that flack, yet Campbell, Hopkins, and others continue to be targeted in what's clearly a popularity based agenda via select fans and select media. It's absolutely ridiculous!
Campbell is a character-quality man, so when he does decide to hang his gloves up he will find success regardless, maybe even in a commentator capacity, because he's a true student of the game with the ability to articulate it VERY well. But, until HE DECIDES to move on, people can either get with him or get over it. The man can still fight......definitely well enough to make money and provide for his family! As far as the fight itself goes, coming in it was viewed as a 'crossroads' affair for both men, yet exiting the evening, it's safe to say only one man 'crossed' that 'road'. No question, Campbell's performance seemed to lack passion and to be truthful, I found it to be a bit uninspiring.
That being said, I think you have to take into account the fact that despite his shortcomings, Ortiz does in-fact have some skills. Speed and power if nothing else, and to add to that, he's a southpaw. So, considering that 'styles-make-fights', I felt coming in that Campbell could possibly be in for a long night, regardless, when you consider that his style is to rely on cumulative damage, and the man opposite of him goes for the KO, or racks up points in the interim. Either way, that chapter of his career is over and now the focus shifts to his future. Lets wait and see what it encompasses and hope it leads him to more success ( be it in or out of the ring).
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).
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