Left-Hook Lounge Mailbag: Malignaggi, Mayweather/Pacquiao, Thurman/Kahn, & Danny Garcia!

Austin E. (Charlotte, NC): Paulie Malignaggi was recently quoted saying that he feels Thurman and Khan both have enough in their arsenal to defeat Mayweather and Pacquaio. I was curious to hear your thoughts on his words and whether or not you find them true?

Vivek W. (ESB): Malignaggi is one of those guys who has earned my respect both in and outside of the ring. Despite his limited power, I always viewed him as a fighter who had a very strong grip on the fundamental element of boxing. Listening to him in the role of commentator, I think his words solidify that position, as I think he’s a complete natural at breaking it all down. Few have done a better job than Paulie behind the mic, as it relates to articulating how certain fighters need to go about execution to gain victory in a given match. I think this is the first time I totally questioned his logic, but in all truthfulness, I can’t say that he’s wrong, either.

When I look at the two scenario’s, I think the Pacquiao equation is a bit more likely, and his reasoning about Pacquiao looking “different” when he conforms to stronger testing unfortunately plays into that theory. Without opening that can of worms, I will say that Pacquiao has looked less and less like the storm that ravished through the sport about 5yrs ago. The Pacquiao that walked thru much bigger men like Margarito and Cotto struggled mightily with a much smaller Juan Manuel Marquez. Had he lost on points, I’d have a different opinion; but after being badly hurt and subsequently stopped by a smaller Marquez, I have no doubt that Thurman’s power would be a major factor.

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The Khan/Pacquiao fight, is more of a question mark. Khan’s length and speed could make it intriguing in the early going, but once Pacquiao lands flush, I think the dynamics of the entire fight change, and I could see even this version of Pacquiao stopping him by the 9th round. Looking at Malignaggi’s Mayweather comments, I really struggle to find truth in that one. From day one, I’ve felt very strongly about the fact that people just refuse to give Maidana credit. Under Garcia, Maidana totally reinvented himself, and stylistically, he was a challenge waiting to happen for Floyd Mayweather. That being said, despite his effort, he only won three rounds decisively which leads to my next point:

Neither Khan or Thurman fight like Maidana. And the primary reason Maidana was able to find success was due to an unrelenting effort that was suffocating in a way that didn’t allow Mayweather time to think. If you want to know how Thurman or Khan would fare against Mayweather, look carefully at the two Maidana fights. In the initial fight, Maidana was suffocating, giving Mayweather no time to think, and his results were somewhat favorable. In the second fight, he took a more cerebral approach. That approach, coupled with Mayweather’s decision to use the footwork critics said he no longer has ended any shot he had at victory.

Both Thurman and Khan would fight in the very same way, (boxing, not brawling). either are known for such a smothering attack, and neither could sustain such an attack. Recognizing that truth tells me they’d be heavily entrenched in a chess match. And even at 37, Mayweather is not a guy you want to be in a chess match with. Fans and media have created some type of ‘moral victory’ for opponents being able to land a few more shots on Mayweather than normal. Unfortunately, that doesn’t account for the 7 or more rounds necessary to win a fight. No one (outside of maybe Pacquiao) today can land enough over 12rds to get that nod. Interesting fights….same results of the past after 12rds.

Hector O. (Mayaguez, PR): Despite my Puerto Rican roots, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is my favorite Latino fighter today! With a nine fight deal under HBO, what fights do you think we’ll eventually see him in?

Vivek W. (ESB): The move to HBO for Canelo was a very good one for the sport. With Floyd Mayweather being the face of Showtime and Canelo already losing to him, it allows HBO to remain a strong presence, all while keeping Showtime honest, forcing them to remain true to their mantra of delivering top quality fights. Nine fights covering a 3yr span is a lot of ground to cover, and so many things in the sport can change from day to day to impact that path along the way. On paper, Chavez Jr., Cotto, and Golovkin are the best fights to be made. Unfortunately, paper burns!

It’s so easy to say “those fights will be made”, but lets take a closer look at how easy that plan can unravel over the course of 3 years. Chavez Jr. remains in the middle of a nasty contractual issue with Arum/Top Rank where he’s eager to fight, but won’t be pushed into a contract extension that he’d rather not sign. Does he sit on ice until that contract expires? If so, we can scratch that one from the list, at least in the immediate future. Miguel Cotto is a jr. middleweight and presents the biggest following of the three prime options, so this is perhaps the easiest fight to make. Or is it?

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Although it never became public knowledge, prior to settling for the historic element behind facing Martinez at Middleweight, Cotto had preliminary talks with Goldenboy to stage a Canelo fight, first. The reason those talks never went beyond the “preliminary” phase? Canelo was not open to the same level of demands that an injured Martinez looking for his final big payday was open to. Now that Cotto has won the historic bout, in his mind, he suddenly has even more clout at the negotiating table.

Canelo, on the other hand has a much larger Mexican base of fans, and despite the limited resume strength, he feels his position will be second to none when it comes to the final set of numbers and stipulations in a bout. What gives? Neither man will take less than 50% of the split. Neither man will concede less than 50% of the PPV split. Then you have those primadonna issues, such as who’s name is listed to the left on the promotional banners (the Champion/star attraction side)? Who walks into the ring last (champion/star attraction position)? What weight the fight happens at, etc.These may sound like small task, but when egos present themselves, they are actually quite grand!

Then you have the bout with GGG, which would require Canelo to go up in weight. This bout will probably be the last of the three, which also gives GGG the time to build his brand. Of the stronger possibilities, these are only three fights, but the contract calls for nine. Again, I think it’s a great move, but I really don’t know where nine solid opponents, 6 of which have to be PPV quality, will come from. Pacquiao will never fight above 150lbs again. Canelo has been unable to make 154. There’s no amount of money that can make this bout happen.

That being said, once he moves up in weight, names like Ward, Froch, etc., enter the mix. So again, this could be a huge deal! Or it could be a huge bust! For now it’s a major ‘deal’ to some. To me, it remains a question mark waiting to be answered. Stay tuned.

Maurice N. (Dallas, TX): I’m a huge Danny Garcia fan, but I don’t care for his recent opponent selection. What are your thoughts on his pending bout?

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Vivek W. (ESB): I have to be honest, the handling of Garcia’s career, post-Matthysse, has been one of the most baffling I can recall seeing in entire decade plus that I’ve covered the sport closely. Last time out, we saw him face an opponent who wasn’t even ranked in the top 100 of his own weight class (which was not the same as Garcia’s, mind you); this time, he’s facing an opponent who has done a little more, yet still isn’t the level caliber that we’d expect from a man who was mentioned as a potential Mayweather opponent roughly a year ago.

For those who don’t know, Postol is a somewhat talented Ukranian fighter. Solid height (5’11”), solid skills for a relative unknown commodity, but certainly not a world class talent. When we look at his resume, we see one name that has any true familiarity to it, which is DeMarcus Corley, whom he shut out on the scorecards almost unanimously. Beyond him, there are no names that fit the description of top talent. There’s a Lundy, but it’s not Hank! There’s a Felix, but it’s not Trinidad! There’s a Vitaly, but it’s not Klitschko! Of his 26 fights, only two have come in America, and only 11 were stopped before the final bell. Yep! This one has tune-up written all over it! Again….

I honestly don’t know what to say about the post-Matthysse career of Danny Garcia. On the strength of that victory, I saw him as being an emerging star with a huge upside. After further review, I’m learning yet again that this is precisely why it’s best not to swing on that proverbial ‘pendulum’ we see swinging in the sport, where fans ordain young talents before they earn it. We saw this with Broner, we saw this with Berto, and we saw this with Ortiz. While I do think that Garcia has very good potential in comparison to those men, I also question how much confidence his team has in him.

When the Mayweather shot was discussed, his Father Angel quietly said, that they “aren’t ready”. Trouble is, I don’t know how they get there facing this level of competition. What scares me is that without knowing it, Team Garcia seems to be answering a question that many have had without directly responding. We saw Garcia struggle against an older Morales at one point. We saw him bailed out by a powershot against Khan. We saw him arguably lose to Herrera. On the flipside, we saw him elevate himself against Matthysse. What does that tells us? Basically, it says that while he has the talent to be molded into something bigger, truth be told, his team knows he isn’t quite there.

I see no other legitimate reason to hold a young talent back this severely. In a sport where young guns are typically eager to test themselves, here we have a talent that’s fine taking his time, going nowhere fast, trying to make the run last! I like the kid and saw a big vision for him. Sadly, that vision is a bit blurred right now, and only better competition changes that. Peterson, Broner, a Matthysse rematch; all much better opportunities to prove his mettle than what we continue to see. I hope this trend changes soon, because as a fan, I’ve run out of ways and reasons to protect him. Lets see what 2015 brings, as 2014 has been a total momentum stopper for Philly’s new son.

(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be heard every Tuesday night on “Left-Hook Lounge Radio” at 9ET/6PT. He can be also be reached at 954.770.9807, Twitter (@vivekwallace747), Instagram (ViveksView), and Facebook)