“Left-Hook Lounge Mailbag”: Would GGG Face Kovalev?, Mayweather Crossing Lines?, Rigondeaux in Pacquiao Camp?

By Vivek Wallace - 03/16/2015 - Comments

Ensei L. (Ontario, CA): I’m a huge GGG fan and looking at Kovalev, I couldn’t help but think about how great a matchup would be between the two. Do you ever see that fight happening down the line?

Vivek W. (ESB): As much as I would love to see that fight, I have very little hope that we will ever see it. It’s one of those topics that really challenges me, personally. You never want to take a negative or harsh disposition towards an emerging talent in the sport, but when you look at the negative narratives that follow proven commodities in the sport, contrasted by images drawn up to illustrate perceptions of those who aren’t, it’s just not proper. When I think of a Danny Garcia, or an Andre Ward, there’s a consistent rhetoric that almost mandates that they take on a certain level of competition or be banished to hell for not “proving themselves”.

Then we look at a guy like Golovkin, who has the world intrigued with the stage set for him to do big things, and there’s no pressure by fans or his network (HBO) to see him achieve such goals. Kovalev has adequately earned the recognition he gets. And if you didn’t feel he earned it against the legendary Bernard Hopkins, he certainly earned it against a very credible Jean Pascal. Not too long ago, Golovkin’s trainer, (Abel Sanchez), spoke on how they once sparred Kovalev and were forced to let him go because they weren’t getting in beneficial sparring, and how Kovalev pretty much showed too much respect.

When I think back to that interview, and parallel that with the audio loop of them continuously saying that they’re “putting everyone from ’54-’75 on notice, it absolutely bothers me that we aren’t hearing more about this fight taking place, or finding footnotes in the media about a pending clash in the near future. Paul Williams wasn’t as ‘feared’ in the minds of the media. But the guy was willing to jump anywhere between welterweight and middleweight. Adrien Broner wasn’t as ‘feared’, and is barely respected by many, yet he jumped up two weight classes to face a top contender. Didn’t end well, but he polished his game off and has vowed to avenge the loss.

Rigondeaux, Lomachenko, Crawford….each of these men have found their way into the ring with top tier talent in less than 30 fights, yet we have a bruiser like Golovkin who’s north of 30, with more than 30 pro fights, yet has only really faced one credible threat (Murray). It’s tough to understand, and his prime is quickly fading as we continue to search for answers. Kovalev is a threat to anyone below the heavyweight division. Golovkin side-stepped Lara and a few others who I feel he would comfortably beat, so there’s no way he’d take this challenge.
He said it’s “all about pleasing the fans”. But as much as I like the kid, I just don’t quite understand…..

Andersen F. (Jacksonville, FL): Looking at a few of the recent photos of Floyd Mayweather, I can’t help but notice his ‘new’ physique. What are your thoughts about him working with Ariza and entertaining Angel Heredia at his gym?

Vivek W. (ESB): This is one of those topics with ‘inflammatory’ elements no matter how you dice it! The names Mayweather, Ariza, Heredia, and Pacquiao? If you want to get a heavy dose of hate hurled your way, include either of those in a few sentences and wait for it! Honestly, this is one of those times where you just have to call a spade a spade. I’d be the first to say that Mayweather and his penchant to be the bad guy forces many to blame him, even when he’s clearly not on the side of error. But in this case, I think Mayweather’s decision making leaves a bit to be desired. That being said, lets forget it’s “Mayweather” we’re talking about and take a look at the big picture:

Similar to a Bernard Hopkins or a Mike Tyson, Mayweather is one of those crafty old-school veterans who will use every angle available to gain a victory that falls short of preventing a victory (if you follow me). From the moment I heard of the mere possibility, I knew what his angle would be, and there was no more confirmation necessary than Freddie Roach’s glaring admission that he’s “fearful of the mind games and talk from Mayweather” because “Pacquiao has never dealt with it in the past”. Those are verbatim quotes, and this is simply the product of that reality.

I don’t like the move and I don’t like the perception, but I can honestly say that I don’t feel that perception validates any incriminating reality. I was recently asked on the “Left-Hook Lounge Radio” show whether or not I think Mayweather would “cheat”? Separating the two, I can certainly understand the way it looks, but I’ve been around Mayweather after fights in the media circle, and I’ve studied him long enough to know that this is a guy who has been too stringent with foreign subjects entering his body for me to ever believe he’d actually juice!

What I find a little embarrassing for some is that many who vehemently denied any involvement by Pacquiao while working with Ariza are now suddenly endorsing this same ‘possibility’ of Floyd, as if this is some new character he’s involved with! It’s the same guy, yet this activity was categorically denied before, yet now “there’s a chance”! It’s not a good look to even assess that, and one truth (in my observation) totally kills that possibility:

When Pacquiao was alleged to have juiced with Ariza, he refused all blood based testing. Mayweather has always taken the test, and will again this time. So that should answer all the questions relative to this matter. Consider this: when Mayweather was released from prison, he was pretty jacked (as the photos showed). The formula? A heavy dose of strength training the Marine Corp way (push-ups)! To the contrast, the time frame where Pacquiao was alleged to have been juicing, he was ripped, but not too buff at all. So who’s lying? Strong talking point, weak story. Moving right along….

Kenneth N. (Chicago, IL): Rumors are heavy around the sport that Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach have brought in Guillermo Rigondeaux. I think that’s the perfect blueprint for him to train against. What are your thoughts?

Vivek W. (ESB): I’m not quite sure I see this move the way many do. When I think about the fundamentals of boxing and how many variables there are to the “Sweet Science”, it’s just not that easy to follow such a notion. I hear fans say “Rigondeaux is a great defensive fighter like Mayweather so this is a good move”, and it’s just totally baffling to me as I think back to some of the defensive wizards in the history of the sport and how different they were. I think back to my personal favorite, Willie Pep, then you have guys like Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, James Toney, and Bernard Hopkins.

What most don’t realize is that you have some boxers with decent defense, and then you have those who master (what I call) “transitional defense”, where they’re able to execute offense within the flow of their defense with pure fluidity. For lack of better terms, it’s practically a hybrid level defensive counter-punching method. Each of these men have this ability, but the execution was vastly different. James Toney threw combinations, Hopkins would look to plant a single shot in an operative spot; then you have guys like Mayweather who will do one or the other, solely depending on who he had in front of him, while exiting in a simultaneous motion.

If you look at those examples I just shared, the main difference in execution comes down to the mind. Each of these men had very dynamic and complex minds. You can emulate a style, but you can never emulate a ‘mind’, because it’s a fingerprint to who we are as individuals, and no two individuals are the same. Rigondeaux is arguably a top 2 tactician in the sport today. But there are a few other things that he is more natural at than even that advance level of tactical ability: a short southpaw with a short reach! As great as he is, can we really expect a parallel to Mayweather by a guy that’s a natural southpaw standing 5’6″, 130lbs (at best), with a 68inch wingspan?

Mayweather can in-fight and doesn’t mind doing it. I’ve never seen Rigo even try to. There are just so many differences that as great of an idea as it is, it’s almost bizarre to even suggest. They’re two totally different talents. I’ve said from day one that Mayweather will have a hard time finding anyone to emulate a talent like Pacquiao. Anyone who doesn’t understand the opposite is just not thinking clearly. The closest duplicate to Mayweather that they could use is unfortunately no longer alive (Nicolino “El Intocable” Locche). From an abbreviated shoulder roll, to the uncanny reflexes. The only thing he didn’t have was comparable speed with his feet. Unfortunately, the blueprint stops there.

(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be reached at “Left-Hook Lounge Radio” on Tuesday nights. He can also be reached at 954.770.9807, Instagram (ViveksView), Twitter (@lefthooklounge1), and Facebook).