Vivek Wallace's Mailbag, feat. Cotto, Mayweather/Pacquiao, Khan, Bradley, Martirosyan, and more!

Richard B. (Bronx, NYC): Miguel Cotto looked impressive in his fight against Yuri Foreman. Do you think Cotto would defeat Pacquiao with Steward guiding him from the corner?

Vivek W. (ESB): Like most, I felt that Cotto showed a great improvement in his performance against Foreman. The two things that stood out to me the most with his effort was the footwork, and more importantly, the patience he displayed. The old Cotto was so busy hunting an opponent down that he often failed to use sound fundamental judgment. There were no traps set, or anything that he could have used to assist in switching gears late in a fight, which made him very predictable. The new Cotto took his time to stick the jab out first and actually watch to see what opened up to followup with. It was a beautiful thing to see him exercise fundamentals along with his typical prowess. All that being said, there are three things that I think will prevent Cotto from EVER defeating Pacquiao. Limited speed, maximum bravado, and critical thinking, (or lack thereof)..

In the past when Cotto wasn't really a 'thinking fighter', he didn't have the speed to keep up with Pacquiao, so now that he's picking his spots and calculating moves, it could be even more difficult to try to dissect someone like Pacquiao. It's one thing if you're a natural thinker in the ring like a Hopkins, Toney, or Mayweather. But when you have to methodically calculate, (as a result of it being a natural trait), an inability to think and react fast enough, (critical thinking), only gets you in more trouble against someone who moves as fast as Manny. Add that to a huge heart which prevents the necessary discipline required to stay true to that 'calculating' blueprint, and suddenly you have a fighter who knows what he needs to do to win, yet reverts to old bad habits when things begin to get hot. I love Cotto, and I admire his huge heart, but Pacquiao's a level I just don't see him reaching with his set of attributes. Not even the enhanced ones. This was his first fight with Steward. Perhaps after the next few this opinion may change.

Alexandre R. (Manhattan, NYC): I attended the Cotto fight against Foreman and liked Cotto's performance. What do you think about a matchup between he and Alfredo Angulo and who do you think would win?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think a Cotto/Angulo fight would be quite intriguing. It would literally be a test of wills, as both men come to bring the pain! Somewhere, someone out there is saying to themselves, "if Cintron defeated Angulo, no way in hell he (Angulo) defeats Cotto"! I can feel that notion, but the reality is that Cintron was working with a few tools that Cotto won't bring in the ring with him. Cintron has greater height, reach, and comparable power. Mix that with athleticism, and suddenly, you've got a potent mix that pretty much serves as an OD for any fighter with limited experience.

Cotto has a ton more heart than Cintron, but that could work against him. He'd be more compelled to stand in the pocket and mix it up, but considering how easily he cuts and bruises, despite his great power, his wear and tear would multiply far quicker than anything he could ever place on Angulo, given an equal amount of time. I would like to think that a somewhat more disciplined Cotto under the tutelage of Manny Steward would help Cotto carve out a points win or potentially even a late stoppage, but like the game of life itself, this scenario brings no certainties, as anything can happen. Hopefully, one day these two warriors enter the ring to answer this question for you once and for all. I'd love to see this one myself!

Jazz A. (Los Angeles, CA): Me and a few of my friends have an on-going debate about whether or not Zab Judah could defeat either Amir Khan or Timothy Bradley. Even at this stage of his career I feel he can still defeat both. At 147lbs, who do you see winning those two fights?

Vivek W. (ESB): At first glance, both questions seem fairly easy to address. Things change considerably when realize the true question comes WITHIN your actual question, which is the specification of "147lbs", as opposed to 140. Zab has been pretty comfy as a welter and we haven't seen him against an elite opponent at 140lbs in quite some time. That being said, I'd be inclined to say that a couple young studs like this would give him pure hell over the course of a 12-rounder, providing they didn't get caught with anything nasty early on. Now, that's at 140. When you move up the chain to the famed welterweight level, neither Khan nor Bradley have proven themselves as durable at that level, and within the last 4 to 5 fights they've had, we've seen both men affected at some point (albeit not seriously) by fighters who aren't nearly as fast or powerful. I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd take either one of these men without question over Judah at 140, with Khan being a slightly bigger question mark (as a result of an unknown chin).

At 147, I think Bradley's tenacity would be critical, helping him wear Judah down enough to steal some late rounds and solidify a points victory.

His power is marginal, so I see no KO's on the horizon, here. With Khan.....above 140, as much as I love his athleticism and his pure talent, I'm afraid all bets are off! If he gets past the first 8 rounds, I like his stamina and skills to get the job done late, considering that Judah is rarely dangerous during the 'championship' stretch, now-a-days. That being said, this fight with Judah and Khan would literally be an 8th 'wonder', because during the first 8 rounds of the fight, I truly feel Judah has as much greater odds of stopping him than he does of stopping Judah during that stretch. A fight at the welterweight limit between these two would be a MAJOR question for the first 3 quarters of the fight. If Khan survives that unfazed, his conditioning and talent nets him a points decision, IMO.

What jr. middleweight do you think has a good shot at defeating Vanes Martirosyan?

Vivek W. (ESB): I expect to net a ton of flack for my response to this particular question, but to be perfectly honest, I'm not really too high on Vanes, and wouldn't be surprised to learn that I'm not the only one. I think the best thing Vanes has going for him is Freddie Roach. The irony there, though, comes within the fact that neither Roach nor Vanes are really deemed to be competitors known to emphasize defense. I find Vanes' footwork to be marginal at best. Couple that with a sub-par defense, and suddenly I get the impression that the first time we see him in against someone with a decent amount of talent and a huge heart, we could very well see him take his first professional loss.

His overall skillset is better than average, but I'm afraid I'm just not buying what he's selling yet. The Ouma fight proved a lot, and when Greene actually let his hands fly, it proved how easily Vanes can be hit. I plan to continue to watch him evolve and see how it unfolds, but currently, I think Foreman would give him hell. I think Cotto would give him hell. Angulo would make for an interesting match, (based on his patented pressure), and I think Martinez absolutely mops the floor with him! That's four of the bigger names in the division, and each of them carries a 50/50 shot into the ring with them. (and by the way, that's being politically correct to the utmost).

Doug H. (Miami Lakes, FL): When Pacquiao said he would do the 14-day rule for testing if it's only a certain amount of blood drawn, everyone viewed him as the reason the fight wouldn't happen. Now, Mayweather says he's about to take another year or so off, which means the fight won't happen for sure. What do you think about Floyd's B.S. now?

Vivek W. (ESB): To be honest, Doug, I couldn't accurately describe how old this matter has gotten to me right now without being permanently banned from publishing an article ever again. It's absolutely pathetic at this point. Most know that over the course of the last 6 months I haven't sided with Pacquiao on this topic because I felt there was far too much at stake - for the fighters and the sport - to let this opportunity fade away due to (what I felt) was a fair request, particularly when paralleled with $10M overweight clauses, and things of that nature. After talks fell apart, there was an open table of host for replacement opponents, yet Arum/Team Pacquiao decided on Clottey, while Team Mayweather decided Mosley. The same Mosley that helped Mayweather to strengthen his negotiating position practically begged Team Pacquiao - even offering to go as low as 140lbs - and was denied. This lapse in judgement ultimately gave Team Mayweather the upper-hand.

Where things really got twisted is that Team Pacquiao recently made an effort to conditionally approve the randomized blood test with the initial 14-day proposition offer, (contingent upon Pacquiao being able to stipulate how much blood would be drawn). Trouble is, Mayweather never said THAT offer was part of THIS set of negotiations. In a recent conversation, one Mayweather camp insider stated to me that "the proof lies within the numbers and not only are those numbers on Floyd's side, but as Floyd reminded everyone before the Mosley fight, if they (Floyd and Shane) did bigger numbers than Pacquiao/Clottey, there's no way in hell Team Mayweather would settle for less"! When asked further about the 14-day agreement, he continued in saying "yesterdays stipulation ain't today's concentration......even if it wasn't conditional, why in the hell did fight fans have to wait 6 months to finally get an approval for something that would have sealed the deal in the first place"! I have to wonder myself, what must have changed and why? This concession by Team Pacquiao tells me they do acknowledge (to some degree) that Team Mayweather holds a slight upperhand.

I feel Team Mayweather should bend a bit, but I follow that truth with two questions......who the hell am I?, and if Team Pacquiao held this upper-hand position, would they not leverage it themselves? I don't agree with Mayweather's new demands of open-ended randomized testing and more money, but guys, I hate to be the bearer of bad news here.......he earned top billing with an option Team Pacquiao flat out declined (Mosley). Beyond that, Floyd made the same $40M he would have made with Pacquiao, without him. Pacquiao has made no where close to that in a single fight, so, anyone wondering why Floyd won't bend need not look any further. He doesn't have to and Pacquiao could have held this position, but was misguided and failed to secure it. His negotiation position will be reduced further by taking on another Top Rank stablemate (Margarito, Cotto, etc) who does little for him but add another victory to his resume.

*****I would like to thank each and every one of you fight fans out there that sent condolences and words of encouragement to me for the recent loss loved ones in my family. My Father read several of the comments personally and was touched at the out pour of support that stretched across the globe. It was truly humble and I extend much love to every last one of you....Peace!*****

(Vivek Wallace can be reached at, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).

Article posted on 08.06.2010

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