C. Jasper (Columbia, SC): I know you were pretty high on Danny Garcia after he soundly defeated Lucas Matthyssee. After seeing him struggle against a nobody, what do you think now?
Vivek W. (ESB): I’ll start by saying that I totally beg to differ, as it relates to your opinion of Mauricio Herrera being a “nobody”. Covering the sport over the years, I’ve always liked the art of keeping a thumb on those men and women who are under the radar, but above the rim, so to speak. Coming into this bout, I definitely viewed Herrera as someone who was not to be taken lightly. On the morning of all major fights, I post a Facebook “Scouting Report” which lays out my thoughts in general terms. I’m not always as deadly accurate as I’d like, but in hindsight, the words posted were almost ominous, as they spoke very clearly about what would later happen. To revisit the caption, here is a direct quote:
“Although Garcia should get the nod, this is a legitimate contender who will not be pushed around or pushed down. Herrera has proven that he can dance with the wolves, going the distance with both Alvarado and the gritty Provodnokov, never touching the deck against either man. He actually holds a victory over Provodnikov, which tells us on the right night and with the right motivation, he can indeed do big things”. Standing in the ring for the final instructions, I noticed a teary-eyed Angel Garcia, and in a bit of comical relief, I also posted “apparently Angel knows something we don’t, fellas……standbye”! At first, my comments were all comedy, but by the end of the night, there was nothing to laugh about in the Garcia camp!
I don’t like terms such as “exposed”, but I have to be brutally honest in my assessment that Garcia definitely lost the fight. Unfortunately, in Boxing, Champions on the short end of the stick can get away with poor performances, stemming from invisible rules, such as “you have to beat the Champ”, or “you have to take it out of the judges hands”. At the end of the day, I don’t like that angle, as by this standard, any Champion that can avoid being knocked out will own victory with little effort. All in all, even as a fan of Garcia, I can readily admit that he did not deserve to get the nod. Some will use the notion that he “had an off night”. I don’t subscribe to that theory. Yes…all “good” fighters have “off nights”. But “great” fighters only have “off rounds”……and the “Best of the Best”? Those guys may lose a sequence or two within a round, but they constantly adjust and adapt, so rarely do they ever lose any (rounds).
I won’t say that Garcia was “exposed”, but I won’t argue with anyone who does. I say that in the sense that similarly to Adrien Broner, what I learned personally is that he simply isn’t as far along as we thought. He was able to defeat Matthyssee, because unlike Herrera, Matthyssee only does one or two things good, and Garcia’s entire fight plan was built around nullifying his main strength. With Herrera, it was about experience. This was a man who has seen and done so much, to the point where this time around, he was able to view Garcia as the more ‘limited’ opponent. He made adjustments, and he kept Garcia thinking. What really struck me odd was that Garcia simply had no answers. Angel gave him the same period of instructions for the last 8 rounds, and he never followed them once.
Two sure-fire signs to me that a fighter will struggle on the elite level (if he ever even makes it there) is a guy who doesn’t execute any adjustments during rounds and can’t execute instructional adjustments prompted in-between rounds. As early as round 5, Angel could be heard shouting at Danny, telling him repetitively “stop standing straight up”, “bend your _____ knees, Danny”!, “you have to throw the right hand, Danny”! He never adjusted, and technically got worst. That simply doesn’t work at the elite level. There are questions about him going up to 147. Personally, I agree with his Father, Angel. I don’t like the move and wouldn’t rush it. Ideally, I’d like to see he and Broner face off, as they appear to be on similar levels.
Some would scoff at that notion, but at it’s best, we have the same scenario here that played out with Broner. Only difference is that Garcia didn’t touch the deck or lose. Both men failed to adjust, and both men seemed overwhelmed at points by men who are not nearly as talented. A deeper analysis could potentially give Broner more room to talk, as he does hold two distinctive points of contention within the head-to-head debate. For one, Broner was moving up in weight nearly 3 weight classes, which I say on the strength of him fighting his entire career at Super Featherweight, before taking two fights at Lightweight, and jumping straight to Welterweight. Secondly, as funny as it sounds, he actually showed me more heart down the stretch in the Championship rounds. I think it would be a great litmus test for both men at 140. But first, Garcia needs to give Herrera a rematch.
Fabian G. (Dallas, TX): You’ve been very critical of Saul Canelo Alvarez’s PPV numbers, (Angulo fight), but looking back in history, I can’t think of many other fighters to do that well in their first PPV fight. I don’t totally understand your position and would like you to explain.
Vivek W. (ESB): I think it’s safe to say that my thoughts on this matter are not as firm as they once were. It’s almost one of those situations where I find myself stuck in between two contrasting talking points. On one side, I can both see and support the argument which says that this is a non-English speaking fighter who was able to net almost 350K buys in America. But I can’t seem to get beyond the fact that this is a man whom, to me, was well on his way to becoming a mega star in the sport. When I consider that, and combine it with the fact that he’s coming in off a platform that saw him headline a 2.5M PPV rate card, I just see this number being not necessarily low, but low for what I expected of him. Particularly on the strength of the fact that he was in against another Mexican warrior, in a fight catering to a very passionate base, (the Mexican contingent).
I think what it really comes down to is the fact that despite him being Mayweather’s dancing partner, he simply hasn’t been built up in the minds of the American fight public as much as it would seem. I think that makes total sense, but then logic says to me that if he can’t summon a stronger figure than this on the heels of a 2.5M buy rate, can he ever? There are so many different dynamics to this argument, but the one that prevails is that despite him being Mexico’s biggest emerging star, without a household name across from him, the American market may not be as fruitful for him as we’ve seen for the likes of Oscar Dela Hoya and others.
Felix “Tito” Trinidad was about the only non-English speaking fighter in recent times who was able to command the attention of the American fight public. But even for him, without the larger-than-life Oscar De la Hoya and a few others, his numbers would not have been very powerful, either. So, it’s all relative. I think Canelo will continue to emerge as a perennial force in the sport, and his style is very much built for success – as it relates to support from hardcore fight fans. But alot of his pay-per-view success will come down to who stands across from him at the promotional podium, and ultimately in the ring. I don’t know that he’ll do Trinidad type numbers over the course of his career, but he definitely has the style to. Lets see if he can find the opponents. Stay tuned….
James P. (Miami, FL): There have been internet reports about Floyd Mayweather organizing a “beatdown” of two former employees, as well as the FBI raiding and investigating GoldenBoy Promotions’ office for “fixing fights”, among other things. Why is the Boxing media refusing to talk about this?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think the Boxing media isn’t talking about these two stories, because they’re both non-stories. I always find it comical when we consider the fact that we live in a social media driven era of life where news can travel from one corner of the globe to the next in seconds, yet somehow, people still believe that there’s a way to conceal major breaking news like this. Has it occurred to anyone who believes there’s some massive coverup that whether it was the neighbor, the pizza man, or some random family member looking to gain attention, some bystander would have reported and confirmed something both ways by now. I’m a firm believer that something typically takes place to start rumors, yet rarely do they actually mount up to the speculations consistent with the allegations.
In the Mayweather scenario, the local Law authorities in Las Vegas have been very clear in stating that “nothing has been reported” to them or the local medical authorities that would include the name “Mayweather” in recent times. That statement was followed by a declaration that there’s “no need or plans to contact Mr. Mayweather regarding this issue”. When you consider that he remains on probation following the infraction that left him incarcerated, you have to know that anything remotely close to being a consideration is something the law would act upon. So, again, I think both issues are dead issues. My best advice would be to pick the media sources you choose to follow a little better. TMZ has been known to get a few “hits”, but like many of their stories, this is a clear “miss”! Relative to the Goldenboy Promotions story? I’d say false alarm there too. Stay tuned.
Aaron V. (Atlanta, GA): I like this kid Deontay Wilder, alot! Did you think his opponent took a dive last Saturday night? And how do you see the current Heavyweight Champions handling his power?
Vivek W. (ESB): While I think Deontay Wilder is great for Boxing, and particularly great for American Heavyweight Boxing, I’d be the first to admit that we still don’t quite know how good he is. That’s great in the sense that he hasn’t proven to be a bust like many others; but it’s bad in the sense that we simply don’t know. I don’t think anyone learned any more than we already knew on the heels of that debacle we just witnessed against Malik Scott. It’s a bit odd to assess, but I have mixed emotions on what I witnessed in that fight. I can’t argue with anyone who feels that Scott “took a dive”, but three things make me feel that’s not what likely happened. For starters, this wasn’t a Khan-like scenario, where there was an opponent across from him who could have potentially spoiled something that lies ahead.
Scott is a pretty talented fighter, but by all means, this was a very winnable fight for Wilder. Secondly, knowing what lies ahead, there’s far more incentive to get Wilder in some great rounds to test him and more adequately prepare him. I think if a guy was gonna take a dive, it would have at least come in the middle rounds after some heated exchanges, or true powershots were landed. Last but not least, I think the biggest reason many had a problem with the way things ended was because the collective focus was on the second shot, which barely landed. If you watch the footage closer, the temple shot that came first was the one that supposedly caused the major damage, causing Scott to fall and subsequently be out of place when the second shot came down range.
I don’t know how powerful the shot was, but I do know that a temple shot landed on a fighter early who hasn’t quite warmed up can definitely cause that reaction. Again, I wouldn’t argue that it wasn’t a dive, because we simply don’t know. But that being said, I can’t see why Scott would sign off on diving that early in a fight, which only devalues him as a fighter in a very weak division. I just don’t see the logic in that. Round 7 or 8? Absolutely, I’d say we got the good ole Okie-Doke! But seconds into the fight, when he’s cold and a power puncher lands to the temple? I can’t argue either way on that one. The cool thing is that Wilder won’t have any more ‘lay down’ fights from here on out, as the winner of Arreola/Stiverne awaits. All I can say is what we didn’t learn today, we shall definitely learn tomorrow! One thing for sure, no one from this point on will lay down without being sent down!
(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be heard on Tuesday nights on “Left-Hook Lounge Radio” at 9ET/6PT. He can also be reached on Facebook, Twitter (@vivekwallace747), and Instagram (ViveksView)