Left-Hook Lounge Mailbag: Peterson vs Danny Garcia, Bradley, Broner, Mikey Garcia, and Charlo!

Karen B. (Baltimore, MD): As a huge Lamont Peterson fan, I was very happy to see him win last Saturday night. What were your thoughts on his performance, and how do you see a proposed bout between he and Danny Garcia going if they do face off next?

Vivek W. (ESB): Coming into the night, I wanted to really get a feel for where Peterson was mentally, at this stage in his life. We’ve seen Peterson at the top of the ranks, and we’ve seen him look far less threatening. The past has taught us that Peterson can be whatever Peterson wants to be when his mind is right. Some would raise the failed steroid test. My response would be that it’s a non-factor. The lead official for the medical staff produced proof that he was being treated for a condition and the traces found were low enough to pass any other drug test in the sport except the overly stringent “zero policy” VADA based testing. Couple that with the fact that he was cleared by the IBF, and certainly you have to view it as a non-issue. What we saw Saturday was a man with a clean system, and after that performance, one could argue a clean slate and a bright future.

At its best, we have to assess that he was in against a man who has never really faced anyone on this level, which he admitted after the fight. So, keeping that in perspective, although it was a solid performance by Peterson, I’m sure his trainer and those close to him will make sure he remains level headed and keeps working to garner the same results against top-level competition. Presumably, Danny Garcia is up next in a potential unification showdown. That said, Adrien Broner sitting front row may not have been a surprise. Many rumors had him linked to Garcia in a potential showdown later this year. His setback loss didn’t help those plans, but I could see Goldenboy Promotions luring him into a shot at Peterson for his strap, setting up a showdown with Danny Garcia for the winner, as either fight would be a stronger draw at that point.

As intriguing as it sounds, right now, that angle is pure speculation. If Broner moves forward with the planned execution of his rematch clause to face Maidana, it’s more likely that Peterson will get a shot at Garcia to unify the straps. That’s a fight that some would declare Garcia an easy winner in at first glance, but I’d be quick to caution anyone thinking that way, reminding them that as solid as Garcia looked last time out, he was in against a guy with great power, but no other bullets in the chamber, so to speak. We’ve seen Matthysse look subpar against pretty much every skills boxer he’s faced. Good skill boxers like Judah and Alexander were able to do enough to make those fights debatable in the mind of the judges. Garcia has decent skills, power, and toughness, which makes him a quality style matchup for Matthysse, but Peterson is a skills guy himself.

Both of these men are skills guys with toughness and decent power, so what gives? I really think a bout with Peterson would be a much tougher challenge for Garcia than the Matthysse bout was. Against Matthysse, it was fairly simple: stick to the script (box) and avoid the power. With Peterson, it’s a different game. When he’s on his game, he can out-think you, land often, and potentially hurt you in the interim. He’s not as easy to hit as Matthysse, which gives Garcia a totally different puzzle to solve. I would stop short of saying that Peterson defeats Garcia, but I’d caution anyone thinking it’s an easy or automatic victory for Garcia, as well. Hopefully we get to find out. I think this would be a great night of action in the sport featuring two young studs, and the fact that it’s a unification bout only enhances the big picture. Stay tuned.

Bernard J. (Odenton, MD): I love Timothy Bradley’s heart in the ring. Do you think him re-signing with Top Rank will hurt his chances of being able to truly cement his legacy, as opposed to be being with Goldenboy Promotions who could offer quite a few more options?

Vivek W. (ESB): I was very shocked to see Bradley go this route, to be quite frank. He was months away from a level of freedom that could have seen him reach a height in this sport he’s yet to find. Suddenly, his career is facing a new direction, and there’s nothing he can do for quite some time if that direction doesn’t yield the results he expects. Many of you remember not too long ago when Bradley was a bit disgruntled, feeling like the ‘stepchild’ of the promotional banner, unable to get anything he wanted and those he depended on to make things happen had no answers for the present, no regrets of the past.

What I find intriguing about this whole affair is that on the surface, Top Rank appeared very intent on using him for one more showdown, possibly two, before his contract expired, and letting him walk free. No one has seemed to catch the fact that Top Rank didn’t open this dialog which resulted in a contract extension. Bradley did. And when he came to them first, my personal interpretation is that they realized, “OK, he came to us” (which shows a weakness exploitable at the negotiation table). I think their position from there was “OK, lets package up a few things, make it look nice and neat, and if he bites, we get to yell, TIMBER”! And they got him!

I really wonder how this all would have played out had Bradley held his cards a little longer and sat back for a minute, playing possum, giving the impression that he would in fact entertain offers from Goldenboy and other promoters? Had Bradley done that, I doubt very seriously that Top Rank’s brass would have seized the moment, as I never really felt they had extended plans for him beyond the immediate. When he wanted big matches before, they fed him Pacquiao and Marquez. They had little to offer him then. What has changed from that point to now? For Pacquiao, it’s a logical fight. Both guys want to redeem themselves in that questionable situation, and Bradley isn’t a big puncher so there’s a strong chance that Pacquiao could win on activity rate alone. If that happens, we can potentially get a rubber match to remove all doubt with both men holding a victory in hand.

Beyond that and a potential rematch with Provodnikov, what else can Top Rank offer him at ’47 that will net him the same type of mega money? At Goldenboy Promotions, there’s Garcia, Broner, Matthysse, Maidana, Thurman, and several others, including the biggest cash cow of them all, Floyd Mayweather. What’s even more baffling is that the handling of guys like Rigondeaux and past comments demonstrate that Top Rank isn’t the best place for those who prefer to box rather than brawl. And it’s even worse for those fighters who don’t bring the support base of an entire country like traditional Latino’s and Filipino’s.

When you consider the lengthy layoff Bradley took a few years ago, and pair that with the fact that he somewhat rushed into this offer without waiting to see what else could present itself, it just all makes me think that this may not go the way he wants in the end. One thing I think we all need to be mindful of, however, is the fact that everything is verbal at this stage. Unless there are new developments I’m unaware of, Bradley and Arum both stated that this agreement was “verbal”. We’ve been down this road before. No contract is final until ink hits the paper! For all we know, Arum could have given specific terms that will appear more conditional in the actual contract, or more incentive laden.

Bradley stated that they gave him “everything [he] wanted”. Only months ago, he went on record saying he “wanted” a shot at Floyd Mayweather. Has he abandoned his quest to get the proverbial “bird in the hand” (only possible through Goldenboy Promotions); instead opting for the proverbial “two in the bush” (Pacquiao and Rios….neither of whom offer the same mega money options)? I think he should have finished his contract and taken time to hear the possibilities with GBP. In the end, he may wish he had too. I support his decision, and wish him the best, as ultimately, he has to live with it….not me!

Andres S. (Orlando, FL): Mikey Garcia continues to win, but I can’t really say that I see him as a true elite fighter. Do you think he’s truly a top level fighter? Or do you think he’s a cut below?

Vivek W. (ESB): To be quite frank, my thoughts on Mikey Garcia are a bit contrasted to what they used to be. Once upon a time, I saw him as a perennial, top flight contender in the making. But as he steps up in competition, I’m learning yet again that any fighter who can be hit consistently can be hurt…..and any fighter that can be hurt consistently can be beaten! Two fights in a row now we’ve seen Garcia buzzed and nearly down from fighters who didn’t have what it took to maintain those efforts. For the first time, I now legitimately question how well he will perform against a fast, powerful fighter with enough pop to hurt him, and enough toughness and endurance to outlast him.

Some speak the names of guys like Gary Russell Jr., or Yuriorkis Gamboa. I don’t really see either of those men developed enough to defeat him, yet, and there’s also the question of weight with Gamboa fighting at lightweight and Russell currently campaigning at featherweight. Russell has quite a bit of talent, but there’s zero traces of evidence in his resume to suggest him being battle tested enough to withstand the return fire he’ll have to conquer at that level. I’ve never seen him take a big punch, and certainly have never seen him conquer an opponent who landed a few. Same with Gamboa, although his wildcard is his speed and power. I’m not so sure how he handles Garcia’s power if hit with it, but now that I see Garcia can be buzzed from decent power, I can’t help but remember it’s the shots one doesn’t see coming that affects a fighter the most.

I think Gamboa’s power and speed would make him a slight threat. He’d have a punchers chance at the very least. Russell is a guy who I feel could go either way. He has the talent to get the job done on the cards, but I’m just not too confident in his ability to take that punch or escape it for 12rds. We’ll have to see what unfolds, but for now, I’m just very curious to see what Garcia does next and how he handles the next level of talent, although at Super Featherweight, there’s very little there to test him with. There are unread pages in his story that we have to see play out. As of now, my opinion parallels yours. He’s good, but I’m not totally sold like I once was. Stay tuned.

Andre N. (Miami Beach, FL): I read your FaceBook post where you characterized the fights last Saturday night as “uneventful”. Was there anything about either broadcast that you would deem noteworthy or significant for the future?

Vivek W. (ESB): Absolutely. My FB comments were more wide scale, relative to the entire night in general; but there were a few things that left me curious relative to what lies ahead in the future. When I analyze things from that standpoint, I would look at two things specifically. One was the comments and disposition of Adrien Broner, and the second was the performance of Jermell Charlo. Starting with Broner, I can understand entertainment and shock value, but delusion was the only word to come to mind when I heard him state that when he loss, it was received by the general public like a Mayweather loss. That’s when it finally hit me that this game is simply too deep for his mental grasp at this stage. I love him as a beaming personality in the sport, but it’s no longer a question in my mind that he simply doesn’t understand the true depth of what he’s up against.

Even the greatest critic will inwardly admit that Mayweather is a once-in-a-lifetime talent. They will also be honest with themselves (inwardly) about the fact that what he has been blessed to accomplish night in and night out is something 98% of the previous talents in the sport have fallen short of accomplishing. For Broner to state that he’s “the closest thing to Mayweather in the sport” and that the public somehow paralleled his defeat to a Mayweather defeat is nothing short of delusional. One thing that needs to be addressed in certain terms is that one loss does NOT mean he can’t eventually reach the apex of the sport. Ali, Chavez, Duran, and most any great of any era that you could think of has tasted defeat, yet found their way back to greatness in the end. Broner is still capable, but I’m growing the opinion that it will take far more than he’s aware of.

I have no doubt the humbling loss can help him, but if he isn’t putting in the work and exercising a blind ambition to elevate his game beyond any level of the past, he’ll receive that same humbling lesson of the recent past. In the world of Boxing, there’s typically someone somewhere working to tear down everything a young lion like Broner has tried to build. The quicker he realizes that, the better off he’ll be.

Relative to Charlo, I think he soundly found a way to tame a very complex opponent. When you think of some of the complications Rosado gave the well established Peter Quillin and up and comer J’Leon Love, to see Charlo dismantle him with ease this early in his career says quite a bit. I thought Charlo was very composed, and for a guy not none for pop, he proved to us once again that well placed precision punches can do far more damage than a bunch of grazing power shots. At 5’11” with a 73 inch reach and a fundamental based talent like that, I think he has a very solid upside. And being on the Goldenboy Promotions roster, the flood gates can open at any point! In their own stable, you have Canelo, Lara, Angulo, and beyond. Workable fights include Andrade, Trout, and beyond. If he keeps winning, we will definitely see him in a major fight by Fall of 2015.

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