Boxing

'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. The Mayweather's, Berto, and Oscar De la Hoya

Martin B. (Orlando, FL): I thought you did a very good job last week breaking down the Mayweather Jr./Sr. fiasco, but I wanted to know if you can expand on your thoughts surrounding the relationship between lil' Floyd and Roger, and how it was able to succeed where the relationship between big Floyd and jr. failed.

Vivek W. (ESB): I have many thoughts surrounding this topic, but none say it better than Floyd jr. has said so many times in the past. What it all comes down to is the fact that Floyd Sr. is his Father and wants to be respected as such; but with Roger, although there's the same bloodline involved, it's strictly business. Outside of staying away from alcohol and drugs, getting ample rest, and keeping his cardio and weight in good form between fights, Roger has zero interest in trying to tell Floyd how to live or perform. He simply guides him. That's one element I think many are losing in this whole scenario. With Roger it's business, but Floyd Sr. wants the power of being identified as not only the Father, but the "creator", partly because all of what we see from both Floyd and Roger today started from him as the original source of love for the sport in the Mayweather family.
Not only that, but when you think about the fact that both these men are categorically what most would view as "alpha-males", I think you also have to realize that NEVER in life do we see two of these type characters exist in the same proximity with any level of success. That being said, lost in this whole mess is the fact that there's a trinity effect here that I actually find to be quite powerful. In Floyd Mayweather Snr., Floyd Jr. learned most of what he knew as an amateur, and a great deal of it was predicated on defensive strategy. After his departure to prison, Roger began to put his print on Floyd, which was a bit more offensive. The collective work between the two created a hybrid effect that was very strong in lil' Floyd.

So, Floyd Snr. laid his strong defensive foundation, and Roger implemented his very strong offensive foundation, but buried within the heart of Floyd jr. himself was the most necessary asset of all, which happened to be an element that neither Floyd Snr. nor Roger carried as professionals. That element was unwavering discipline. Floyd jr. should be credited with a work ethic and conviction for his craft that not only Roger and Floyd Snr. failed to display as professionals, but 98% of the other boxers we've seen in the history of the sport, as well. For Floyd jr. to take off 16 months and enter fight camp at what was said to be 8-10 pounds away from fight night weight tells me that despite his presence being away from the sport, his mental discipline never quite left.
Lil' Floyd once made a statement about staying "in prime shape so that he can basically spend his fight camp working on strategy and conditioning, not weight loss." That discipline between fights makes a world of a difference and explains why he's been so dominant. Bottomline, Floyd Snr. gave Jr. a great defensive blueprint, Roger gave him a great offensive blueprint to add to that defense, and Jr.'s own personal strongpoint (discipline) tied up all the loose ends and made it one incredible spectacle. Based on that reality, each of these men deserve praise. What's sad is that they all seem to want individual accolades, yet as a team they made the Mayweather brand the locomotion it is in the sport today.

It has survived because of Roger's hands-off approach, but it began with Floyd Snr. putting his hands on (for lack of better terms), which could be the sole reason lil' Floyd has the discipline he has today. At its best, it's like a symphony......each man has a role, and had one fallen off note at the wrong time, this 'sweet harmony' would be well off key. Too bad they don't see it this way now. Lets see if that changes come fight night! Stay tuned.
Nestor H. (Los Angeles, CA): I thought Floyd Mayweather jr. was again very classless on HBO's 24/7, this time referencing the point where he spoke about Oscar De la Hoya's problems outside of the ring. What gives him the right to talk about another man's problems publicly when he has so many? I think you have supported him many times when he was wrong, but I know there's no way you can now. What are your thoughts about his comments on Oscar?
Vivek W. (ESB): I'm probably not a very good person to speak on this topic, because although I don't condone the actions of FMW in bringing this matter up without being directly asked for his opinion, can we really say that ODH hasn't done this when the shoe was on the other foot? Really. I can see both sides of this scenario, because in one breath I'd like to say, hey, Floyd has no right to say anything about ODH's business; but then again, I can also understand the reality that these men are public figures who do business in public, therefore not only their actions are documented publicly, but also the words of those who speak on their actions. If anything, what I don't like is the fact that people feel compelled to support public discussion of some figures, while avoiding and not supporting public discussion of others.
Case in point: There isn't a website in this sport that didn't touch on the lawsuits facing Mayweather. There isn't a website in this sport that didn't touch on the De la Hoya photo/substance abuse stories. There isn't a website in the sport that didn't touch on the Mosley divorce or the Pavlik alcoholism drama. But there's one perennial figure in the sport that most know and love, and as a result, most of his out-of-the-ring challenges remain buried underground, even by those who know enough to speak. That type of thing is more troublesome to me than your gripe, because I feel whatever the deal is, if it's done for one, it must be done for all. If entities are gonna touch on personal stuff, don't let it only be the people you dislike. The total lack of consistency with reporting in general is my problem, not one athletes' thoughts on another, necessarily.
On a deeper level, what I feel this points to is a total misconception about what's real and what's not, and what's important and what shouldn't be. That misconception hints at an unspoken reality where people seem to only support visual images that make sense to their mental beliefs. Not referencing the race card, but simply visual images and personal beliefs. A good example of this recently came in the NFL where Carolina Pathers' owner Jerry Richardson stated (in so many words) that the teams draft pick, new Heisman trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton cannot get any tattoo's or piercings. Many people would support this philosophy because in perception, it hints at limited professionalism in the minds of those who think this way.
Think about that visual/mental perception and consider this: Victor Ortiz has tattoo's, yet we see him portrayed on HBO's 24/7 as the "good guy". Manny Pacquiao has tattoo's and piercings, yet we see him viewed as the ultimate "God-child" in the sport who can do little wrong. Oscar De la Hoya, on the other hand has no tattoo's or piercings, yet has battled drugs/alcohol and sexual addictions, and still manages to carry a decent reputation. And then you have FMW who has no tattoo's, has never done drugs and won't be caught dead with hardcore alcohol in his hands, yet other deficient areas in his character render that "no tattoo/no piercings" visual perception flatlined at best, because clearly it doesn't make him the model citizen those with that belief seem to think it should.

I've always said that every bad man has a trait of good within, and every good man has an inclination that could lead him to one day do bad. This is why I tell people, no matter who you deem to be good, speak truth, because buried beneath your perception is his reality. And no matter who you view to be bad, speak the truth about those positive things they do, because buried beneath their downside is an upside. It's life. That's why I like to speak on what is, not what I think a perceived reality could be. Can't say the same about many others in the media today. So, to answer your question, I didn't support Mayweather's position, but if we're gonna see bad in his, lets view it that way across the board.
Robert R. (Miami Gardens, FL): What did you think of Berto's performance and how competitive do you see him in the future based on what you saw?
Vivek (ESB): I thought Berto's performance was pretty typical of what we've seen in the past. He was a spirited fighter with a lot of pop-and-flash, but also present was the same fading conditioning we've seen in the past. The addition of Conte to his training regimen was something that left me (and I'm sure many others) very eager to see how he'd perform, and although he looked great in spurts, the more the fight went on, the more it appeared he was wearing down, still. I'd give him a B+ for his effort. As much as fight fans try to subtract from him, what I must say is that Berto comes to play ball every time he enters the ring and he doesn't fold up when adversity thickens.

He had a man in front of him who answered the call and gave a very valiant effort, but it didn't stop him from pursuing victory. He took some great shots and kept pressing. The biggest thing I had a challenge with was the holding. To me, the holding just solidified the argument that he simply doesn't have the stamina many wishes he did. When you consider the nutrional advice and physical training advice that Conte provided, one would think conditioning would be the last issue he'd appear to have, but Berto is slowly establishing himself as a man who carries the same challenge Judah had, and according to Floyd Mayweather Snr., the same issue that Oscar De La Hoya had. That issue was a form of performance anxiety.

Each of these men carry/carried a greater than average level of ability, but when the stage was set and the lights shined brightest, nerves seem to get the best of them. What some fight fans don't know is that this nervous energy eats away at stamina quicker than anything. According to the great ones like Emmanuel Steward and Ali trainer Angelo Dundee, there's no bigger enemy for an athlete in any sport than bad nerves, as they not only eat away at sound execution, but also eat away at the core fiber of energy itself.

David Haye, Pascal, Oscar, Judah, and Berto have each displayed this on some level and when you think of how hard they train, one can only wonder if it is in fact psychological. As far as his future goes, I think Berto will be a champion, and/or a perennial contender based on his speed and pop alone. How well he does at that elite level is another story. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

(Vivek "Vito" Wallace can be reached at vivexemail@yahoo.com, Youtube (Vivek1251), Twitter (VivekWallace747), Skype (Vito-Boxing), and FaceBook).

Article posted on 06.09.2011



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