Left-Hook Lounge Mailbag: Golovkin, Chocolatito, Jacobs, & Ward/Kovalev

By Vivek Wallace - 03/20/2017 - Comments

Juan E. (Houston, TX): Roman Gonzalez was my top P4P fighter coming into the fight, and regardless of his loss, I still have him there. What were your thoughts on his performance and the decision?

Vito W.: Similar to my thoughts on Golovkin, I disagree with Chocolatito being the top P4P fighter in the sport, and pretty much for identical reasons. I think the whole ‘mythical’ element of the P4P discussion is very watered down, as it only takes into account star power and excitability, not skills. I’ve always viewed the P4P mantle as one to be given to the talent which is the purist, and best talent fundamentally overall. Not just offense and excitability; but defense and adaptation. Judging by the mythical element (excitability, etc), guys like Golovkin and Gonzalez belong on top. But my issue with that sentiment is this: what separates them from the young Margarito’s and Felix Trinidad’s of the world? Those two fighters, as well as Golovkin and Gonzalez would all struggle against deft talents with pure skills to make them miss and make them pay.

To be fair to Gonzalez, he didn’t lose to a fundamentally skilled talent. He lost to a guy who some would view as slightly bigger. But the reason I still measure him by the same stick (skills/fundamentals) is because if he actually had a more balanced style that featured offense and defense, a guy that slow would have never been able to tattoo him that much and his power wouldn’t have mattered. Again, this is why I gauge overall fundamental skills when talking P4P. All of these “exciting” fighters seem to flatline when they run up on someone who they can’t land on. May not be the popular take, but it’s mine! He’s an incredibly fun fighter to watch. But that won’t win against a talent with skills til the end!

Andre L. (Brooklyn, NY): I think you’ve always been pretty critical of Golovkin and was surprised you predicted him to win. How did you rate his performance and what do you think his future holds?

Vito W.: Personally, I find the word “critical” to be a bit misleading. Sadly, we live in a politically correct era where anything said about a specific talent (particularly an endeared one) is viewed to be a slight, or ‘hate’. When asked about Golovkin in the past, my position has been very consistent and the performance we saw this past Saturday night supported why I always felt that way. As a fan and media member of the sport, I enjoy the entertainment value of Golovkin. The guy puts cheeks in seats! But unlike many others, I can separate his entertainment value from his overall value. I respect his amateur career, and I respect his career results to this point. But none of those things erase the fact that he’s a 34 years old, with 30+ fights, 30+ KO’s, and until the Jacobs fight, had not faced one legitimate top 2 opponent in his own division.

Those aren’t stats I created. They’re stats he and those who managed him created. I commend him for taking the fight with Jacobs and I thought he gave it his best effort. That said, what many learned about him in the Jacobs fight is a parallel to what I’ve felt all along. When I assess a talent, I look at not only what they’ve done, but also what their potential ceiling is. In Golovkin, I just feel there’s no new card to play. Basically, what we see is all we’ll get. There are no other levels. Golovkin has always looked solid against men who stood in front of him. My question has been, “how would he fare against someone with the stamina to outlast him, and the skill to make him miss and make him pay”? Jacobs proved to us that this is a level of skill that all of Golovkin’s “amateur experience” had very few answers for.

Bottom line, Golovkin will continue to dazzle us against talent that he can land on. He won’t look as solid against that talent in which he can’t, as we saw with Brook and a few others, as well. At the middle grade level, power is a plus. At the highest level, where so many other skills are required, it can actually be a minus! Those who rely on it learn quickly. When it doesn’t solve the puzzle, you have to have other rounds in the chamber! Golovkin will continue to be effective, as he’s far from a bum. I just don’t think his ceiling is or will ever be as fundamentally balanced as required to make him a lock to win against some of those who dwell at the highest level. Lets just call it what it is, ladies & gents!

Jasper H. (Boynton Beach, FL): Like many, I think Jacobs was robbed. What are your thoughts on his future after dropping this decision?

Vito W.: First point I’d like to touch is the repetitive accusation of a “robbery”. I personally had Jacobs winning the fight by a comfortable two point margin, despite the knockdown. So I would totally agree that he won. That being said, I don’t view this as a “robbery”. I thought the Ward/Kovalev fight was much closer than this, yet I didn’t view that as a robbery either. I think many fans fail to realize how close in talent these fighters are at the highest level. They may have different styles, but they measure very closely when it all comes down to it. This bout was no different.

We’ve seen fighters pause Golovkin from time to time. But Jacobs was able to pretty much shift the tide and impose his style. That type of ring generalship has to be rewarded in my book. If it isn’t, you basically justify the notion that the only way to beat the Champ is to stop the Champ….which shouldn’t be the case. I think Jacobs did everything you can ask of your fighter going into a bout like this. He not only executed well, but he proved that he could adapt as Golovkin made changes. I think Jacobs’ stock soared exponentially after last night!

What I find funny is that we heard the outcry for Thurman to give Garcia a rematch, and for Ward to give Kovalev a rematch. Interestingly enough, NO ONE in HBO’s crew seemed to put much energy into Golovkin giving Jacobs a rematch, despite the strong contingent that felt he should have won. That tells me something. Does it tell you something? I hope we hear the same “ducking” allegations if Golovkin opts out of a rematch that Jacobs and the public clearly want. Stay tuned.

Paul C. (Hollywood, FL): Kovalev has been very vocal about facing Ward, yet we have heard nothing from Ward. Do you think he owes Kovalev a rematch next?

Vito W.: On the heels of the Golovkin/Jacobs results, this topic seems to be growing more and more, and honestly, I can’t say it shouldn’t be. Let’s face it! When it comes to Boxing, fans want to see the best face the best, and when there’s a dispute, we want resolution, swift without pause. I personally felt that Andre Ward did enough to squeak out a decision victory, but I also felt the fight was so close that I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had gone to Kovalev by a point, or been called a Draw, either. It was just that close! Anytime you see something like that, I think it’s always best to close the chapter, as closure is the only way to silence doubters.

Andre Ward was listed as my best P4P fighter in the sport behind only Mayweather for years. I think his talent is a textbook definition for the adage “under the radar but above the rim”. Going into the Super Six Tournament I received heavy backlash for predicting he’d win, as few truly understood how good he was even back then. That being said, if you want to hold position, and you truly feel you deserve that position, you have to be able support that position. For all the criticism he receives, one thing we have to admit about Mayweather is that anytime we felt his victory was too thin in margin, he immediately took the rematch to remove all doubt.

Andre Ward has a legacy that includes an Olympic Gold Medal, no losses since age 13 in the amateurs, and a victory over the best talent within his range (sealed in the Super Six Tourney). The victory over Kovalev was great, but somewhat contested. If Ward can take this rematch, win more convincingly, and close his career out undefeated, he would actually have a strong argument head on in legacy vs legacy against Floyd Mayweather. There’s nothing really talk about, here. A rematch isn’t only in demand, but it’s necessary. His legacy depends on it. Lets see if it happens. Stay tuned.

(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be reached at 754.307.7747. He can also be found on Facebook with daily “BoxingTalk” post, trivia, and breaking news)

Last Updated on 03/20/2017