Left-Hook Lounge Mailbag: Broner/Maidana, Thurman, Ariza Caught on Camera, & Goldenboy Promotions Incredible Year!!!

broner7851Shawn O. (Brooklyn, NYC): What a fight between Broner and Maidana! I was pulling for Maidana, but I didn’t think he’d get it done! Do you think it was a case of Broner being “exposed” or was Maidana just the better man last Saturday night?

Vivek W. (ESB): In my weekly pre-fight Facebook post, I listed a quote that said “To he who much is given, much is expected. And in the sport of Boxing, those who declare themselves great must first be tested”! In the end, Adrien Broner was….in more ways than one! Some viewed this fight as a “Fight of the Year” candidate. I think that overwhelming response answers the question relative to whether or not he was “exposed”. You can’t have that type of battle and be considered a “bust”. I don’t think Broner was “exposed”, in terms of being cleared as a bad fighter. “Exposed” in the sense that he isn’t as polished as his smack talk made it seem? Yeah….I’d co-sign that angle. Clearly we saw that there are a few things which prevent him from being that elite, world class fighter any time soon that we were beginning to think he was.

The biggest areas of concern that I saw for Broner was his reluctance the throw more punches and his overall conditioning. It’s hard to say whether they’re two separate issues, or whether or not one is a derivative of the other. One observation I’ve made regarding Broner is that since joining the welterweight ranks, his punch output has been considerably less. With Malignaggi, it was pretty scarce. Against the heavy-handed Maidana, it was worse. If it’s not conditioning, it can only be one thing. Perhaps there’s a fear factor of taking shots from these bigger men. I think it’s a bit ironic how we heard some fans refer to Marquez as a “blown up welterweight” when he made the same jump that Broner did (lightweight to welterweight). In that scenario, it was viewed as a built-in excuse to nullify a very solid performance from Mayweather.

In this case, although Broner has one fight under his belt at the welterweight division, I think it’s clear to see that his power isn’t a factor in that division. It’s also clear that his ability to withstand the power shots there isn’t as easy as he once thought. He said that he’ll remain in the welterweight division, but honestly, his best location could be 140. I think we have to tip our hat to Marcos Maidana and Team Garcia. Maidana has had his fair share of tough times. After joining forces with Garcia, I think we’ve seen some evolution in him. This time out, he had a guy across from him that awakened a sleeping giant, so to speak! Broner’s trash talk and wild antics provided enough motivation for Maidana to enter a level of focus and commitment that probably didn’t know existed. The bell rang, and the rest was history!

I had Broner winning a close fight coming in, (prediction); but in the aftermath, I’m actually happy that he was humbled the way he was. I try to explain to some fans that when Mayweather entered the sport and began to hit his stride, the smack talking and bravado wasn’t an effort to try to parallel anyone’s legacy. He was a man who had that passion to carry out those steps necessary in creating his own in a very indelible way. Broner has used Mayweather as a mentor, (of sorts), but the money, the fame, the antics…..that ‘extra’ element of his career, all of which comes OUTSIDE OF THE RING made it very easy for him to forget the hard work and dedication necessary to truly compete at that level. This was a lesson for any young fighter coming up in the game today. There’s only one formula: Blood, sweat, tears, hard work, and dedication. Anything less fails the test!

Fortunately, it’s not about how you rise. It’s about how you rise after you fall…..for those unwilling to discipline themselves enough to prevent avoidable failures. For Maidana, personally, knowing that we won’t get a chance to see him face Timothy Bradley, I’d love to see him take a shot at Keith Thurman or Shawn Porter. Both of those two young studs have proven their mettle and stylistically, I think either of these fights would be instant classics. For Broner, there was no rematch clause, so what he does next will be interesting. If we don’t get a rematch with he and Maidana on a Mayweather undercard, I think we could possibly see a trip down to 140, where a few other young studs await. Stay tuned!

Jared B. (Orlando, FL): I’m a pretty big fan of Keith Thurman. I know you’ve been a very critical of him at times. How did you rate this performance?

Vivek W. (ESB): I’ll start by saying that I was never “critical” of Thurman in a negative way. My position privately was my same position publicly. As a matter of fact, in my former radio days at FightHype, I actually presented my questions about Thurman directly to Thurman. I had a very real question about him which was very applicable at the time, and has since been answered. My question with any power puncher who gets everyone across from him out so fast is always “how would this guys handle someone across from him who could make him miss and land with equal or greater heat than he has”? With Thurman, we don’t have a total answer just yet, but I feel confident enough to say that I’ve seen him tested enough at this stage to give me comfort in his position handling such a situation.

There’s still work to be done for the young Thurman, but I love his evolution thus far. I think the kid has shown great strides! Every fight he’s showing us something new that we didn’t know he had, and he’s proving more and more each fight that he is in fact ready to evolve to that elite level. There’s a ton of fights out there for him, and I think we’ll get a chance to see one real soon. His power is a threat to anyone under 154, and you can put his heart in the same bracket! The guy has a will to win and and we know that he won’t come to lay down or lose. No matter who’s in across from him! I see a date with Maidana coming to a theater near you real soon! We may even get that one next! Either way, I think we can expect some memorable nights with the name “Keith Thurman” at the center over the course of 2014!


Ari P. (San Francisco, CA): I saw the video circulating online that clearly showed Alex Ariza block the camera angle and actually slip a pill into the mouth of Maidana, who apparently had a slight issue swallowing it, according to his facial reaction. What are your thoughts about this?

Vivek W. (ESB): Brandon Rios recently failed a drug test, and this was his first time with Alex Ariza. Both Ariza and Rios swept the findings under the rug, with Ariza saying that he hadn’t given Brandon anything that can’t be found over the counter, or anything with any more kick than a typical redbull, or something of that nature. Oddly enough, here we are only days later, and after seeing that video, honestly, I don’t know how ANYONE can attempt to say that it wasn’t something illegal. During the whole Mayweather/Pacquiao drug scenario, heavy research taught me far more than I knew existed, relative to the several ways an athlete can effectively cheat and beat a drug test. A few years ago, I would have said it’s a non-factor. But understanding the use of masking agents, and realizing that this pill was popped and a liquid immediately administered? I have major suspicions.

I want to believe that Maidana’s effort was totally pure, but I’d be the first to say that I don’t trust Ariza, and I don’t think for a second that he is beyond suspicion. What I do know is that there was no extensive testing here. Rios popped on his drug test with VADA styled testing – which leaves zero room for error. Maidana entered the ring on the platform of an old test which we know can be beaten with relative ease. I really don’t know what to say here. I truly don’t! It’s a great victory, it was a great fight, but viewing that video at length, and seeing him maneuver something in that napkin until it positioned itself where it couldn’t fall, then he put it directly over the mouth of Maidana, I just can’t believe there was no foul play involved.

But what can be done? There’s no regular Olympic styled testing, so the only thing that could stop the possibility of a cornerman slipping something into a fighters mouth/drink is to have the presiding body more involved. If water, gauze, and the basic things are what each corner has the right to bear, I think it should be provided in kits in sealed bags – only opened after the fight begins, with no one from either corner allowed to bring anything else to the corner. Sounds pretty elementary, but under the circumstances, I don’t know what else could be nearly as effective. We all remember the infamous Panama Lewis quote, which beckoned that his assistant “pass the bottle that I mixed”. The rest was history. And a similar ‘history’ from the same source would cost a man his career, and nearly his life. This should be thoroughly investigated. Something wasn’t right, there.

Brad I. (Cincinnati, OH): Despite the cold war between Goldenboy Promotions and Top Rank, I think this has been the best year of Boxing that I can remember. Would you agree?:

Vivek W. (ESB): Absolutely! Anyone who has ever followed my work closely knows that I don’t do the favortism thing, or the “kiss up” thing. Never have, never will. That being said, I have to tip my hat to Goldenboy Promotions! I think they continue to take the game of fight promotions to a new level with each promotion. When you look at how deep their stable is, it’s truly an amazing thing to see the job they’ve done! I parallel their movement to the Major League Baseball platform where you have a deep stable of men on the top level, and sort of ‘farm league’, where a selection of very solid young up and comer’s being developed for the world to see, many of which you can identify the star power and pending evolution already.

What I love most about it is that there’s such a deep level of talent that there’s no agenda to protect certain guys. They’re all under the firm understanding that great opportunities lie ahead for the last men standing, so each will have to claw their way to the top! At 140, 147, 154, and even a few nuggets north of that border, there’s a ton of players in the mix, and between the promotional outfit and Showtime, these young talents continue to get a chance to showcase their talent and prove their mettle. It’s not only about the young guns, either. You look at someone like Paulie Malignaggi, who’s career was presumed to be dead in the water. Right now, the guy has a strap with many big nights ahead if he can continue winning.

It’s promotions the way promotions was designed to be. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a situation where a promoter can pull off a quadruple header in back to back weeks and basically lay the ground work for followup matches involving both the winners and losers of those showdowns! It’s really an amazing testament to the effort they’ve put in, and I think it has to be commended. I don’t take sides and have no idea about the true dynamics behind some of the political moves we’ve seen from them; but judging by what’s in front of us, as well as what we saw in the rear view, I really have to give them credit. I don’t think anyone could script a better path for a promotional outfit. It was an amazing year, and I have a feeling we’ve only seen the tip of this massive iceberg! Stay tuned!

(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be reached every Tuesday night at 9ET/6PT on Left Hook Lounge Radio! He can also be reached at 954.300.5692, wallace@boxing247.com, Facebook, Twitter (@vivekwallace747), and Instagram (ViveksView).