The “Left-Hook Lounge”: Vivek Wallace’s Mailbag Featuring Hopkins, Pavlik, Dela Hoya, Mayweather, and The Heavyweight Division!

20.02.08 – By Vivek Wallace: Last Saturday night fight fans were awarded with the opportunity to see another epic battle between Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik. In a stark contrast to the initial showdown, this fight went the distance but in the end, the result was the same..

In the aftermath of that fight as I skimmed through the mailbag, I quickly learned that Taylor and Pavlik wasn’t the only ‘big dance’ in town. Other notable topics that got heavy air-time varied from Bernard Hopkins’ latest skeptical remarks, to a showdown between the Mayweathers, as well as the current state of the Heavyweight division.

In an effort to dig a little deeper beneath the surface, we take a closer look:

Ronnie (El Paso): Kelly Pavlik was great against Taylor but do you think he’s still untested?

That’s a very good question. A very, very good question. To his credit, Pavlik dethroned the man who beat the man – (Hopkins) – who no one in recent times was able to. The flip side of that coin is that he’s still very ‘raw’ in some ways. One stat to support that theory is the fact that he had only been past the 9th round once before Saturday night and it was was nearly 3 years ago – (Fulgencio Zuniga). He has beaten a very solid puncher in Edison Miranda and a great fighter in Jermain Taylor, but aside from Bronco McKart, I know nearly none of the other fighters on his resume. I don’t know exactly what the true ability of Kelly Pavlik is, and to be honest, I’m not sure any of us have truly seen it yet, but I would be lying if I said I don’t think there are fighters out there that could get the best of him in a 12 round fight. Put him in against a guy with good movement, great defense, and a solid offensive arsenal with a good jab and I think it’s possible that he leaves the ring with his first “L”. Not too long ago we had the same skepticisms about Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto who defeated a good Zab Judah, then later elevated his game to defeat a great Shane Mosley, silencing a strong majority who felt he wasn’t what he thought he was. So bottomline, Pavlik may not be totally battle-tested, but until he loses his “O”, you have to give him his well deserved credit.

Richard L. (Daytona, Fl): Bernard Hopkins was recently criticized for saying that he wouldn’t “lose to a white-boy”. Now he’s stating that if Barack Obama wins the U.S. Presidential election he would be “assassinated”. What do you think about those comments?

The comical side in me asks what else should we expect from a guy who calls himself the “Executioner”? The humane aspect within says that it’s probably better to quickly point out the fact that neither comment is a laughing matter. I think it’s interesting that these two comments came out at this time because they encompass the very same agenda that the country is in the midst of considering, via the Presidential election. That agenda being pondered is a change – or lack thereof. In One breath Hopkins said in that interview that the U.S. isn’t ready for an African American President, then in the other interview he says that he would never lose to a ‘white-boy’. If Hopkins really took the time out to analyze those comments before he spit them out, he probably would have realized that the reason the country may not be ready for an African American President is because ignorant people make comments like the one he just stated. The reality is – from a political standpoint – regardless of who’s running for President or who wins, change is the one thing that everyone seems to be in alignment on. That being said, it’s important to note that change means not only a defection from the ills of the current economy, but also change from the ignorance that brings on comments like that. Final analysis is that Hopkins is promoting a fight and in essence drawing necessary attention to his name. Remember, in the world of entertainment, any press is good press. In this situation it’s safe to say a few dumb comments may have been good press, but clearly a bad idea.

Shawn (Philadelphia, PA): What do you make of the current Heavyweight division?

The Heavyweight division right now is very difficult to dissect. On paper you see the Champion, Wladimir Klitschko, followed by 5 contenders – Peter, Valuev, Povetkin, Ibragimov, and Chagaev. Two with 1 loss and three without any – yet there’s very little buzz because no one on a global scale really knows who these supposedly great fighters are. Klitschko is the obvious frontrunner, but aside from Peter and maybe Valuev, it’s tough to see any of the others making any real noise. Ibragimov is a slick fighter for a man his size, but his first loss will probably come Saturday in NYC when he faces off against Klitschko. When that match is over, the only meaningful fight out there will be a Klitscko/Peter showdown, or Valuev/Klitschko. Unless you’re in Germany or the Ukraine somewhere, there’s no one in this mix that truly has that polarizing figure to draw the masses. Until another brash KO artist surfaces who has an ego to match, don’t expect any fireworks or global buzz from the heavies any time soon. No one would admit it, but this division has been meaningless since the departure of the troubled Mike Tyson. As great as Lennox Lewis was, even he failed to muster that same level of attention and things have continued to fall off ever since.

Anthony Martin (Las Vegas): What are your thoughts about the upcoming Mayweather versus Mayweather battles?

I hope I’m answering the right question Anthony. But if you’re talking about the fact that Oscar Dela Hoya – (trained by Mayweather Sr.) – is scheduled to face off against Steve Forbes – (trained by Roger Mayweather), then I would say this was actually a very predictable move by the Golden Boy Promotions group. The end goal is to get Floyd Jr. in with Oscar, and the fact that Oscar Dela Hoya and Mayweather Sr. have chosen to square off against a Roger Mayweather trained fighter not only gives them a glimpse of the style he’ll be facing, but it also sets a prelude to the 24/7 saga which will undoubtedly spill over with the war of words between Roger and his brother Floyd, adding another element to the already simmering drama between Floyd Jr. and Oscar. Truth is, few really care to see a sequel between Oscar and Floyd Jr., so they’re gonna need all the hype and build-up to prelude this fight as possible. It’ll be interesting to see how Forbes does because although he’s a naturally smaller fighter than Dela Hoya, he’s a pretty quick fighter and if he comes in with the right strategy, we could be looking at Dela Hoya/Sturm all over again. Oscar will be well trained for this fight and I expect Mayweather Sr. to pull out all the stops, but it’ll be best if they remember that Forbes is no Floyd. As far as the Mayweather versus Mayweather feuding, there’s been more than enough said about that for me to even consider adding my two cents. It’s a sport and it’s entertaining, but the light in which it’s being presented is actually nothing short of sad.

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(Tune in to next weeks “Left-Hook Lounge” – to be posted next Wednesday – for my take on the latest buzz in the world of boxing).

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Boxing News The “Left-Hook Lounge”: Vivek Wallace’s Mailbag Featuring Hopkins, Pavlik, Dela Hoya, Mayweather, and The Heavyweight Division!