'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Pacquiao/Roach/Ariza, Khan, Tarver and Dirrell!

By Vivek Wallace:

Xavier G. (Orlando, FL): I'm noticing more and more that many in the media are starting to pick Margarito over Pacquiao and I find the recent statements by Roach and Ariza to be very weird. I'm a huge lifetime Pacquiao fan and I'm concerned if this has anything to do with the rumors going around about his training issues. Have you heard anything from your inner-circles?

Vivek W. (ESB): First and foremost, I think it should be duly noted that NO ONE outside of the respective camp truly knows, because Team Pacquiao has held an extremely tight camp, which recently closed doors to the media, as well. Although I have no first-hand knowledge, what I can confirm is that 3 sources reported to me personally that Pacquiao did in fact enter camp heavier than those around him would have liked, and these reports were later substantiated by the fact that neither Ariza or Roach would quote his exact weight when asked directly. The old adage states "silence speaks volumes", and when you consider that we're hearing about everything from KO round to how the KO will happen, I do find it a bit odd that they would not go on record with this info, knowing that if his weight were at an OK number there would be no gag order on the topic.

My sources reported his weight estimated closer to the 160lb range, which I find to be completely impossible. When you consider a 7 week training camp and the rigorous activity which typically melts extra pounds away, perhaps there may be some validity to this number, as there's no way he could enter camp at a modest 150lbs and still be there 7 weeks later after the transformation, too. I know the photo op for the initial press conference for the fight left many asking questions about his rather circular face at the time, but me......if he did get that heavy there's some serious problems going on! With a 5'6" frame, that simply can't happen! Another thing mentioned was a major conditioning issue in the beginning where Pacquiao was unable to perform task that he could normally pull off without much prior training.

This was said to be culprit with the mysterious "virus" Pacquiao had. Again, we can't believe everything we hear, but the notion was born within the possibility that his time off with the "virus" was nothing other than a resting period he was given to help him recover from limited conditioning in a somewhat unlimited training regimen. This is an interesting theory, because a few chat boards around the sport seem to give room to the possibility of the fight being "called off" if Pacquiao didn't start to look better within the next 4 to 7 days. I trust my sources, but I think you have to be careful what you believe in because there are so many inconsistencies out there. In one breath we hear that Pacquiao was heavy and have his people refusing to give his weight on record; but then we hear that he's taking a million protein shakes and eating 7 meals per day to keep on the weight, so who truly knows, but them and God?

But all of that being said, a wise man would remember that each of Pacquiao's last few camps started with mysterious injuries and odd sequences, only to see him enter the ring and shut someone out with very little effort. So, I wouldn't put too much stock into this stuff just yet. If anything, you also have to remember that Pacquiao has greater duties (as a congressman) now than he ever had before, so it's quite possible that he's a little heavier than normal and more behind schedule than normal, but my money says come fight night, he'll be where most expect him to be.....IN MARGARITO's CHEST!

Marco I. (Los Angeles, CA): Amir Khan has been talking a lot lately about facing guys like Pacquiao and Mayweather, among others. What are your thoughts on his recent comments and how prepared do you think he really is when it comes to backing them up?

Vivek W. (ESB): Amir Khan remains one of the central figures in the sport today. Certainly not on that mega level just yet, but by all means and standards, he remains one of those hot talents that we are all curious to see the evolve. Khan has the speed, the talent, the looks and oddly enough, the star power, to one day be a mega star in the sport. What remains in question for those critics of his out there is his chin and heart. Any fighter can be knocked out early in a fight when they're still cold and not quite warmed up, but unfortunately, it's not something you expect from a rising star, and this major blemish will haunt him until he proves otherwise by overcoming some true ring adversity at center stage in front of fight fans around the globe. I thought Khan's attitude about the setback was brilliant. He didn't lose interest, go into hiding, and wrap himself into a shell. He simply got back in the gym, trained harder, and attempted to elevate himself in the sport again.

Where the issues for Khan come in surrounds the fact that although he has looked better than he did against Prescott in his recent bouts, he still hasn't faced anyone who could truly test him on a grand-scale ever since that night. That's where his recent comments become a problem. It's normal to start jabbing when your confidence rises, but his new found confidence isn't quite tested, which sets up another potential catastrophic moment if he enters the ring against Maidana and suffers another humbling loss, because he would then walk away feeling that no matter how confident he feels about himself, what he brings to the table may simply not measure up! I don't question his heart, but I do question how he'll react when he gets buzzed at center stage in a big fight, which is a totally separate problem. You have those fighters who don't have the chin, and then you have those whose anxiety strips them of the chin they do have.

I always tell young fighters in passing that "this isn't can't put on your sunglasses to block the bright're either ready for the big stage or you aren't"! In this case, it remains to be seen with Khan, but Maidana will give us a very accurate gauge by the end of what could be another "cold December night". If he defeats Maidana soundly and advances to defeat the Alexander/Bradley winner soundly, as well, I wouldn't mind seeing him face a Mayweather or Pacquiao. Taking a quick trip down memory lane.....I don't know how many of you out there saw his sparring footage with Pacquiao, but that footage was sparring that took place not too long after the Prescott fight, and I'll be damned! The kid really gave Pacquiao problems with his speed and movement. Pacquiao landed some nice shots, but when Khan backed him up, Pacquaio had NO ANSWER and took more flush shots than I've ever seen him take in sparring. That was a while ago. If Khan has evolved since that point, we may in fact be headed to such a showdown. Stay tuned.

Tavis J. (Atlanta, GA): Antonio Tarver seems poised to make some noise in the heavyweight division. How much of a shot do you really give him at this age and stage of his career?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think your term "shot" was very key, because it will stand for of one of two things in the end analysis. He will either make good use of his 'shot', or be bannished from the division, (and maybe even the sport), for looking "shot" when that final bell rings. In his last few outings, I was not very impressed with Tarver at all. I think he has the tools to be an intriguing fighter at this stage, but I simply haven't seen him do much to prove that he still has enough gas in the tank to pull the trigger. One thing that I think could benefit him is the fact that he will no longer have to trim weight and diet to reach a certain pound level. If he can continue to eat like normal, stay rested, and establish a good stamina at his natural size, he may very well be a force.

But, I should quickly clarify that this force isn't one that make will place him on the K-Bros level. If at the very top of his game, he may get beyond the Eddie Chambers and Kevin Johnson types of the world, but someone like Adamek may still be enough to defeat him. A fight I'd personally like to see him get (but knows that he never will) is David Haye. If Tarver can handle the heavyweight punch and look pretty good doing it, I think his style would be an intriguing matchup with David Haye, but again, it won't happen. So, we'll soon see what Tarver can do, but I wouldn't be so quick to try to pin him in with the K-Bros. Like many of the other traditional size heavies of this era, that's a non-withstanding proposition.

Steve Q. (Miami, FL): I would like to know what you think about the recent developments with Andre Dirrell. I was really looking forward to his fight with Andre Ward and now we won't see it. What are your thoughts?

Vivek W. (ESB): Well, honestly, there isn't much to say, here. I think these two men represent the top of class in the 168lb division (alongside Bute) but chances are, now and never, we won't ever get a chance to see what they'll look like against one another. These two guys are very good friends and they go way back. This reality fuels speculation that at the core of the matter, but who's willing to dispute a man reporting neurological issues? I'm not! Some questioned Dirrell's word after the Abraham fight, even going far as calling him "Denzel Dirrell" due to what those critics perceived as a major acting job; but one thing for sure, he couldn't claim neurological issues here had they not been present before, with medical records to support.

When Showtime threatened to sue the parties involved if the fight didn't take place, both camps were on notice that they would need a bona fide reason why the fight couldn't happen to avoid such punishment. Be it true or false, this is indeed a bona fide reason, and all we can do is accept it. Again, he couldn't get away with this if medical records didn't support it. Apparently they do. If there is a hidden agenda, unfortunately for fight fans it's supported by 'divine intervention'. So, we move on!

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

Article posted on 11.10.2010

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