Preston B. (San Francisco, CA): Timothy Bradley has proven time and time again that he’s the best welterweight in the world. I don’t think he gets the respect he deserves and I never understood that. He knows how to win. How did you rate his performance and his talent in general?
Vivek W. (ESB): Timothy Bradley is tough topic to tackle for me at times. I often think back to his fight across the pond against Junior Witter. I had seen him before and studied a few notes on him, but after that performance I became a very big fan. The heart he displayed that night in an effort thousands of miles away in another man’s land was as good as it gets. Where my personal trouble comes with Bradley is his inability to be consistent with those type of performances. We saw him look great against arguably the best Mexican warrior and future Hall of Famer of this era (Marquez); we’ve seen him look awful against the likes of Provodnikov.
We’ve seen him look solid against Alexander; we’ve seen him look subpar Abregu. I think it’s common practice for any fighter to go thru a learning curve that requires him to undergo a certain level of evolution. But in the case of Bradley, I think my biggest concern is that a veteran of his caliber and experience level shouldn’t be stuck in that ‘box’ 11 years deep into an established career. Coming into this fight, looking at the two names on the ledger, I remember saying to myself that as much as I’d like to guarantee a Bradley victory, I can’t help but sense that he’d find a way (or a reason) to create drama or barely escape with a win. Like clockwork, that’s precisely what we got.
It’s very frustrating to see an athlete with the talent to be heads and shoulders above the average, yet continuously struggle with the average. When I heard how many times he repeated words like “something to prove”, I realized that narrative would trap him once again. I don’t know where the disconnect comes with him. I don’t want to bad mouth his trainer, but fundamentally, either he isn’t giving Bradley the tools to be consistent, or Bradley doesn’t have the tools within to be consistent. There’s no way a powerless puncher with several limitations should have had him in a life or death moment at a point in which most experienced fighters are coasting in a fight.
Personally, I rate Bradley on the B-level in the sport. His resume is first class, but his ability and worth, to me, is at a B-level. The elite of the elite don’t leave room for certain errors or possibilities. Pacquiao vs Vargas would have been an easy fight to call. Mayweather vs Vargas? Even easier. I can’t rate Bradley on that level if I have to question whether or not he can perform at that level. The one supreme quality that I do credit him for, and the one that continues to sustain him is his heart. But at the elite level, heart doesn’t guarantee victory.
Gatti had heart (RIP). He wasn’t elite. Mayorga had balls. He wasn’t elite. Abraham has power. He isn’t elite. At the highest level, you need all of those things. I will continue to support him, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge these very visible flaws. The best welterweight in the world today? Not by my measure. The one guy he hasn’t faced is the one I think would pick him apart, solely on the strength of his pure fundamentals. That guy is Floyd Mayweather. Hopefully we see this clash one day. #StayTuned
Hector S. (Ft. Lauderdale, FL): How do you see the Thurman/Collazo fight going down?
Vivek W. (ESB): At this stage of his respective career, I don’t think we can count on Luis Collazo to be who he once was. There was a point where I thought this guy was as talented as nearly anyone in the sport. But limited dedication, limited focus, and a wide array of other obstacles prevented him from ever being the force many felt he could be. Thurman on the other hand has shown as much evolution as anyone in the sport, and has done a very good job putting the division on notice that he’s not only here, but here to stay!
I have a tremendous level of respect for what we continue to see from Thurman. While I’ll stop short of calling his the best fighter in the famed welterweight division, I will say that of this young crop today, he’s by far the standout talent and the one that I see doing the most damage if he can remain focused and sharp. So far, he has done a masterful job avoiding some of the pitfalls we’ve seen trap guys like Broner, Garcia, Matthysse, Khan, and others.
Collazo has the talent to come out and really make things interesting for Thurman, and his toughness will definitely allow him to escape a KO defeat like many of the past. But in the end, I really think this is Thurman’s fight to win. What I do like about this matchup, similar to the Andre Ward/Paul Smith matchup, although there’s a limited threat for Thurman, it’s still a great fight to get in some quality rounds. Collazo brings a great deal of experience, and a great deal of toughness, which is a storm that Thurman will have to find a way to weather. I don’t see it being a boring fight at all, but I do see it being another victory for Thurman in the end.
Gerald H. (St. Louis, MO): I think many of the younger fighters in this generation show very little true skill. Do you attribute this to the a decline in great trainers or just a decline in great talent?
Vivek W. (ESB): Short answer is that I think there’s a decline in both. I think the level of determination and passion for greatness overall is limited compared to what we’ve seen in the past, and I think many of the trainers are also limited. I’ve been a huge fan of the sport since I was knee high to a duck, but I’ve never formally trained anyone. When I can look at a fight and find myself giving better instructions to implement than a trainer on television who’s getting paid mega dollars, I think something is fundamentally wrong with that, and I don’t quite know where the disconnect comes.
Following the Porter/Broner fight, I had at least 5 or 6 emails from fight fans who were actually disturbed at the fact that neither man displayed any true skill or technique. Neither man established or maintained a jab, there was a ton of lunging, there was limited defense, and there was a ton of opportunities missed because both men had very little understanding for the fundamental element of the sport, and neither seemed to have a guy in their corner who could help them beyond this obvious learning curve.
I want to be careful how I articulate this, because I don’t have anything against any of those trainers or the men their fighters faced. But when I look at Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, Adrien Broner, Shawn Porter, Timothy Bradley, Lucas Matthysse, and many more, I see several young talents that have gotten the most out of their physical attributes, but barely anything out of their understanding of the cerebral element of the sport. On the flipside is someone like Amir Khan who has speed as arguably his only true attribute, but has found better results because of the fact that he has expanded his mental horizon by working with some of the best in the game today.
Once upon a time, there were trainers who literally bred marquee talent, all based on their approach, which was built on key fundamental lessons. Now days, my position is that we no longer have true trainers. Today we have specialist. In other words, a ton of trainers who are good at applying one measure, but not quite a total package. Freddie Roach, despite all the accolades, is simply a great ‘energy’ coach. He gets his guys pumped up and helps them control tempo with aggression. He teaches zero defense, and I often wonder if he even understands the principles of the entire concept.
Timothy Bradley’s cornerman, Joel Diaz, is a very smart trainer. But it’s a similar effect to Roach, where he will keep his guy busy and hungry as a lion, yet rarely ever prepare him for the cerebral element of the fight game, which often results in Bradley shedding his tools for the purpose of making a ‘good fight’. When I look around the game today, I see only a hand full of trainers who truly understand the depths of a balanced attack with true fundamental backing.
While Virgil Hunter is a guy that I think is highly underrated, there are still a few question marks that I have with him personally. His work with Andre Ward has been amazing. But their personal relationship is part of the reason why. He has yet to find that level of success with any other fighter, which is where my questions begin to surface. Jeff Mayweather, ‘Iceman’ John Scully and Henry Ramirez are three men who know the craft far better than many we see get praise today. But they aren’t the ‘sexy’ options in the minds of young talents, so we don’t see them get the same level of opportunity, which to me is crazy!
When you move beyond that group, there are a few other trainers who have incredible knowledge, yet their personalities have halted fighters from coming in their direction. I’d place Floyd Mayweather Sr. in this particular bracket. Once the bravado and antics subside and the smoke clears, this guy has a better grip on fundamentals than arguably any trainer in the game today. The hard jab, foot work, defense, offense, timing, energy, etc. He’s just very deft in his application of the fundamentals. With the Emmanuel Steward’s of the world no longer here, the journey for new fighters will be a very tough one. I hope it changes, because we’re seeing a lot of talent wasted from lack of knowledge. It’s sad.
(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be reached at 754.307.7747. He can also be found on Twitter (@lefthooklounge1), InstaGram (ViveksView), and Facebook).