'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag, feat. Blood vs Urine Testing, Pacquiao/Mayweather, Green/Ward, Calderon, and more!
Marcus W. (Liberty City, FL): I feel Manny Pacquiao's recent appointment as "Fighter of the Decade" was more of a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" gift than anything. Do you really think Pacquiao deserved the award over Mayweather and others?
Article posted on 15.06.2010
Vivek W. (ESB): The appointment to declare Pacquiao as "Fighter of the Decade" was made and I respect the decision of the committee that voted, but I can understand the plight of those who feel he didn't deserve it as well. When I think about the last decade in the sport, I can think of a few fighters one could argue deserved it equally as much or greater. Despite the losses to Taylor and Calzaghe, Hopkins did soundly defeat Trinidad, Oscar Dela Hoya, Wright, Tarver, and a few others. Lennox Lewis retired early in the decade, but he was pretty solid. I think Calzaghe and the K-Bros did a very good job over that span, as well. As it relates to Floyd Mayweather jr., I won't get into another senseless debate about who deserves what, but lets look at the accomplishments and remove the names - then you decide which person you would vote for:
FIGHTER (A) - (Notable fights between '99 and '10)
KO'd Rd 3 by Singsurat (09/17/99); Draw against Sanchez (11/10/01) - (had Sanchez not lost two points on low blows, this would have been a lost for fighter (A), as well). Sanchez never received a rematch. Fighter (A) fought a couple not-so-popular fighters outside the country over the next two years before facing and defeating Barrera in 11/03. Next, Fighter (A) has a highly questionable Draw against Marquez in 05/04, then suffers a loss (03/15/05) to Morales by unanimous decision. Over the following 2 years, Fighter (A) fought Morales two more times, Barrera again, received a questionable split decision victory in a rematch against Marquez, faced 3 other decent opponents, then in 2008 began his true ascent to new heights by climbing up in weight and defeating lightweight Diaz, jr. middleweight turned welterweight Oscar Dela Hoya, jr. welterweight Hatton, reduced welterweight Cotto, and into the new decade, Clottey.
FIGHTER (B) - (Notable fights between '99 and '10)
Coming off of victories over (Angel) Manfredy and Genaro Hernandez, Fighter (B) also defeated Corrales (RIP), Jesus Chavez, Castillo by narrow decision, unanimously in an immediate rematch; followed by Mitchell, Corley, Gatti, Judah, (lineal champ) Carlos Baldomir, jr. middleweight Oscar Dela Hoya (in his natural weight division), Hatton as a welterweight, Marquez as a welterweight, and Mosley.
Fighter (A) made a great push from 2008 to current, but a few losses and repetitive competition would dampen his position in my book when you consider that Fighter (B) faced very credible opposition, and removed all doubt by solidifying questionable victories. Another key point of contention is that Fighter (B) faced several co-divisional champions; wherein Fighter (A) rarely faced and never once defeated a co-champion from any of his respective weight classes, reaching a Draw with both Sanchez and Marquez, and losing to Morales. These facts present a compelling case, but apparently those that decided never took these things into consideration. All we can do is congratulate Pacquiao, because whether you agree or not, the award is officially his.
Tim S. (West Covina): NSAC recently discussed the whole urine versus blood testing agenda and it was confirmed that urine is more than enough to catch steroid users. Considering that you have previously supported the blood testing agenda, what do you think about this recent testimony/decision?
Vivek W. (ESB): I had the opportunity to examine several excerpts and a deep analysis gave me a solid perspective with both pros and cons. I found the words of Dr. Voy, former Chief Medical Officer of the USOC, to be very key in the proceedings. I completely supported his recommendation for more randomized urine testing. I support random testing of any type because there's no substitute for the element of surprise. Now.....where my questions about his theory come in is that he also spoke from an angle that supported a need for deeper, more comprehensive testing, then shot down the blood option - which is the only of the two choices that has proven effective in actually catching an active HGH user. To me, this blunder blew his entire testimony. For him to acknowledge categorically that "HGH is out there and there's nothing we can do about it", yet shoot down the only option that has ever been tested and proven against it was a bit of a questionable move, particularly considering that he openly admitted the amount of blood used for testing is "tiny", which means zero impact on performance.
Randomized urine test sounds great in theory, but if blood is the only test that has gotten the job done in the entire history of testing, how can we truly say we need deeper testing, yet not consider the 'deeper' test option? I understand the principles of his point, as the chief concern centered around the possibility of fighters developing "clots from missed vein attempts, or hematoma's, as well as the associated risk of HIV and/or Hepatitis C"; yet (in every excerpt I've read) there was no numerical statistics displayed to support this being a repetitive problem, based on factual past evidence. The only other problem I had with his testimony was that he downplayed EPO's, stating that they "[aren't] performance enhancers in boxing", and that they "don't give you more endurance, although that is the perception". I would attempt to accept that theory, but he never attempted to explain why so many boxers/athletes use them if they really don't assist in endurance, so I have no reason to believe an athlete would use them for anything but endurance. They certainly don't assist primarily in power - according to research performed.
So this is where the debate flames out of control. One method is actually proven, yet the other is believed to be safer, despite there not being great statistics that the unsafe method is actually unsafe. At this point, I guess it's safe to say that blood testing is actually needed, but perhaps we need to fine a more refined way to administer it. Everyday this issue is being examined and improved more and more, and according to Travis Tygart, of the USADA, there is a new test to be rolled out within a few months that will have the capability to catch a user 14 to 21 days after usage. This is key, because it could allow limited testing prior to a fight, but extended knowledge after the fact. May not sound too solid, but stripping a user of a victory after the fact has worked quite well in Olympic Games, perhaps it'll have to be the golden-rule in boxing too, as this option would give us the fight itself, and the results, without a need for ANY prior testing. Stay tuned.
Roc S. (Daytona, FL): People keep saying that (Ivan) Calderon is a better pure boxer than Floyd Mayweather, but I don't really see it. How would you compare the two?
Vivek W. (ESB): The words "better" and/or "best" have been known to get man in more trouble than lifes greatest temptation itself. These words are totally subjective and were never meant to serve on a consensus level. In other words, who I think is better, who you think is better, who anyone else thinks is "better" means very little because we'll never ALL agree! That being said, when you compare these two, both are master tacticians in the ring, but different at what they do. I have said for years that Calderon is a top 3 P4P fighter, but now-a-days the P4P tag can't be placed on a fighter if he doesn't carry enough star power to put cheeks in seats, so, somehow, he remains under the radar. To answer your question, though, when you compare these two, Calderon has far less power, which results in him using a ton more footwork to escape his opponent. He literally hits and runs. Mayweather does this, but only in the initial stages when he is building his lead.
Mayweather will potshot for the first few rounds, frustrate an opponent by hitting them and not letting them hit him back, (if possible), and as the opponent wears down and begins to fade a bit, Mayweather's deceptive power begins to take a toll, allowing him to totally take a fight over by landing jarring shots to either finish the opponent or break their will enough to give him an eventual decision. With Calderon, he adopts this hit-and-run strategy as well, but for the duration of the entire fight, because he literally doesn't have the power to hurt his opponent. Accumulative shots may cause some swelling, but stopping an opponent simply isn't gonna happen in most cases. Also, defensively, Mayweather can stand in one position and use the patented shoulder roll to slip punches and cat-like reflexes to land his own from the same spot. With Calderon, you don't see too much of that.
Standing in the pocket for him means getting hit, (due to a need to get closer because of limited reach), and considering that most of his opponent are much bigger, that strategy wouldn't be a good one. All things remaining equal, I think Mayweather's deceptive power makes him a bit more dangerous, but fundamentally, Calderon is still very sound. Who's better? Well, lets just say that isn't my call!
Dywane O. (Atlanta, GA): Who do you like in the Allan Green/Andre Ward fight?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think it should be a very interesting affair. I love what Green brings to the table and felt he should have been included from the very beginning. He's young, powerful, and his colorful personality brings a new dimension to the entire tournament. That being said, I don't like Ward as a first fight out for him. I have said for quite some time that to me, behind Floyd Mayweather jr., I truly find Andre Ward to be the best pure fundamental fighter in the game - bar none. There's a reason why he has well over three to four hundred amateur fights without a loss, and a pro career without one. The guy knows how to win and that has kept him from learning how to lose.
I can remember being laughed at for suggesting that he would defeat Kessler. You'd have to know how big of a Mikkel Kessler fan I am to know how HUGE that was for me to even predict. I love Kessler, both in and out of the ring....always have....but that being said, I just knew that similar to Mayweather, Ward has that proverbial 'tool belt', and whether he needs the 'wrench', the 'hammer', the 'screw driver' or the 'pliars', he possess them all and can dig for which ever is necessary to finish the job. It takes a Pacquiao type opponent to nullify that deep arsenal. Kessler is great, but I knew he wouldn't be the one. Same rules apply here. I think Green gives ANYONE else in this tournament pure hell, Abraham included. But Ward is just such a sound tactician that I think Green will find it too hard to penetrate his defense to land cleanly.
Green has the power to pull the curtains with one flush shot.....but so did Oscar against Pacquiao....he just couldn't land it before Pacquiao was able to repetitively land flush on him. Green has the tools to win, but he will need to jab, move, box and be EXTREMELY disciplined. One element without the others would blow the entire orchestra. He will need to fight his best fight all-time to get the nod here. It'll be interesting to see if he can do it.
Cary O. (Reseda, CA): What do you think about recent talks of another Morales/Barrera match?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think it's absolutely ludicrous that this is even a remote possibility. On a deeper level, what I have a hard time comprehending is that we continue to hear that Holyfield and Hopkins should be banned or forced to retire, yet these two men are not only still winning, but still very competitive in the fights they do take part in. In contrast, Morales and Barrera are both physically old, shop worn, and non-competitive, yet many in the media seem to be actually applauding this possibility. As old as he is, just two fights ago, it took a complete robbery to block Holyfield from becoming champion, as he clearly defeated Valuev, only to watch the house fighter got the house decision. Anywhere else in the world and he'd be champion!
These are the type of politics that infuriate me to no end, because these are men who are licensed to do a job, have completed the necessary test to do it, yet are not given opportunities to provide for their families while they watch men far less effective receive offers. Granted, from a business standpoint, two Mexican warriors - if promoted well enough - have an entire country to support them; but at the end of the day, it still doesn't add up. I know boxing can't seem to land that mega fight we have so desperately wanted, but anyone desperate enough to see these two fight again at this stage is clearly missing a few 'marbles'. Perhaps the promoters should label it "Freddy vs Jason", as it's clear, some of us refuse to let this old grudge match die!
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).
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