Left-Hook Lounge Mailbag: Lomachenko/Salido, Chavez vs GGG, and Angulo/Canelo

Craig B. (Tampa, FL): I was very surprised to see Lomachenko lose to Salido the way he did. I noticed that you predicted Salido to win. What did you see to make you predict that way? And what are your thoughts on Lomachenko’s future?

Vivek W. (ESB): My decision to chose Salido over Lomachenko in my FaceBook prediction had a lot to do with precisely what we saw play out. From day one I felt that there was just no way that Lomachenko was going to be able to outwit a salty veteran like Salido over 12rds. There’s a huge misconception about Lomachenko that few really seem to grasp. When we listen to much of the media, particularly at HBO, we always hear about the same crop of “talented” amateurs. As good as that group of guys who always comes up are, (Rigondeaux, Lomachenko, and Golovkin), the reality is that there’s only one of them that I view to be a purely fundamental fighter with the proper skill and technique to execute his style regardless of the one across from him. That man is Guillermo Rigondeaux.

In Lomachenko and Golovkin both, as talented as they are, we must remember that there is a parallel between Boxing and other sports, in the sense that there are two sides to the craft. Offense and defense. On the one side, both “GGG” and Lomachenko are very good at imposing their offense and setting a certain tone. That said, both men get hit far too much for my liking, and that has always stood out to me, because at the elite level, you have to realize that you won’t be the only one in the ring with a level of dominance that allows you to land at will. So you have to be able to counter that (pun intended).

Golovkin hasn’t faced anyone on the elite level – from a skills standpoint – so we don’t know how he would fare. In the case of Lomachenko, it wasn’t that Salido was skilled or elite, but clearly his ring IQ as a veteran is light years ahead of even a decorated amateur like Lomachenko. His claim to fame and documented dominance was on the amateur level, which has no answer for or acceptance of the tactics found in the veteran world. Based on that, I knew coming in that Lomachenko would be out of his league, and that’s precisely what we saw culminate last Saturday night.

I don’t like to use words like “hype”, and here it’s not totally applicable, but I’ve always said that Arum and HBO have a strong penchant for talking up certain talents prematurely. The past has shown us, when a promoter opts to go too heavy on the ‘mustard’, it’s only inevitable that some day that talent will probably have to play an intense game of catch up! We saw this manifest with Nonito Donaire. Similarly, this doesn’t mean these guys don’t have talent; but there’s only one Manny Pacquiao in that stable! Zhou Shimming and Lomachenko are both guys who have emerged with a great deal of ‘buzz’ around their name, yet technically and fundamentally, I don’t know that it will translate on the highest level. Rigondeaux was never given such buzz, but is clearly the most skilled of them all. Lomachenko isn’t on that skill level, but his evolution remains incomplete. Stay tuned.

Andres O. (Miami Lakes, FL): Now that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has gotten Vera out of the way, what are your thoughts on his potential clash with Gennady G. Golovkin (GGG)?

Vivek W. (ESB): I think it’s a good fight to be made. The fans like a “fight”, and these are two men who use little defense, but will crack hard all night long! Whether or not this bout happens next remains to be seen, as GGG is now dealing with the untimely loss of his Father, and I ‘d like to send a personal condolence to he and his family on that front. That being said, I do think it’s inevitable that the fight will happen and I think it’ll be a very solid matchup. Talent for talent, GGG is the man whom most identify with as the pure, more qualified combatant. But as earlier noted with Salido and Lomachenko, when you get beyond a certain weight limit, it’s no longer about skills alone.

I always remind fans that there’s a reason why the weight classes go from 3-5 pound intervals to 7-8 pound intervals (and higher) once you cross the middleweight threshold. It’s that way by design, as it takes a much bigger specimen to absorb the heavy punishment on that level. We’ve seen GGG handle middleweights who were closer to jr. middleweights. We’ve never seen him attempt to absorb a punch landed by a man who walks around as a cruiser-weight. The heavy fist of Chavez, combined with the decent beard he wears can make for an interesting subplot on the night these two men face-off. GGG has never walked down and stopped a man this size. The rumors and video that surfaced of the two sparring seemed to have given fans a perception which could later prove deceitful.

Sparring includes head gear, not body gear. So naturally, the shots landed by a body hunter like GGG would do more damage than a head shot from Chavez Jr. in sparring. The night these two men square off, they won’t be using head gear or 12oz gloves. They’ll be using smaller gloves and no headgear. So to land those body shots, GGG would have to get close enough to take several legitimate head shots. We saw Adama buzz him slightly (I believe in round 5 of their encounter); and I have no question that Chavez jr. could hurt him. It really is an intriguing matchup and it’s one I hope we actually see. On a side note, I did want to quickly point out something that few in the media have pointed out.
I often reference the fact that boxing is a “business-first business”, and many of the decisions made are business-first.

I bring that up to touch on the fact that GGG and his team went public saying that they were “putting everyone on notice between 160lbs and 175lbs”. My response at the time was that it can’t be taken seriously because they have not sent any offers or proposals out to pursue fights with anyone, all while taking fights with men no one cares to see them face. To support that statement, let the records reflect that team GGG has in fact made contact and initiated contractual dialog with the Chavez/Top Rank camp; yet never did this for a Martinez bout with Team DiBella. Is this a “cherry-pick”? Is it a good business move? Or simply a non-issue based on who executed it? Just a parting thought…..

Carlos I. (Honolulu, HI): You haven’t spoken much about the Canelo vs Angulo showdown. I know you’ve been a big Canelo fan. What are your thoughts about this matchup?

Vivek W. (ESB): This is a fight that I had to gradually warm up to, as initially, despite my interest in both men, I just couldn’t quite bring myself to finding interest in the bout itself. That being said, after breaking down footage and watching Angulo maul a very skilled Lara, I can’t help but question how he’d perform against a good, yet not as skilled Canelo. I love Canelo’s ring intellect and his ability, but we also have to remember that he’s entering the ring on the heels of his first career defeat. He’s saying all of the right things, but how does it translate when he begins to get hit and mauled around the ring? His trainer stated that this “could be tougher than the Mayweather fight”. At first glance, you’d say definitely not. But I think we must consider that there are several variations of “toughness”, and one was mentally tough; the other will be physically tough.

There’s no denying that Canelo has never been hit by a puncher like Angulo. And the only true deficit Angulo will enter the ring with is speed. Beyond that, it’s a fairly even fight, and despite Canelo’s ring IQ, a master mauler who can cut the ring off nullifies all of that, as evidenced by the Lara showdown. I really think it’s a great fight and I really think we’re in for a great night of action, when you look at the lineup. Relative to who actually gets the nod, if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Canelo. His speed, defense, and shot selection gives him the edge over 12rds. The only caveat there is whether or not he can be hurt, which we’ve never seen in the past. Can he weather the early storm? Can he remain composed enough to prevent from (what some view as) his customary ‘late fight fade’? All of these questions will have to be answered.

Virgil Hunter gave an answer of his own that could prove very eery by the end of the night. When asked to give his thoughts between the type of fight Canelo had with Mayweather and how contrast with this bout, he responded in saying: “Mayweather gave him an education…..my man (Angulo) could give him a beating”! What I found intriguing about that commentary is the fact that outside of Trout, Canelo has never truly faced a full fledged jr. middleweight. Trout tried to box. This is a man who will smother Canelo and prevent him from getting off by cutting the ring off. As if there aren’t enough questions in the mix, I can only think of one more to add: We know he is a solid boxer with above average skills….but is Canelo truly ready for a dog-fight with a man who can make it one for a full 12 rounds? At this point I’m more than pumped, and ready to find out!

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