The Left-Hook Lounge: Vivek Wallace’s Weekly Q&A Mailbag Featuring Dela Hoya, Berto/Clottey, Mosley, Pacquiao, and Much More!


30.04.08 – By Vivek Wallace: This weeks Left-Hook Lounge Q&A segment covers a very interesting group of topics and fighters. With great ring moments of 2008 already behind us, most of today’s questions from some of the biggest fight fans on the planet takes a look at the road ahead..

Kurt Enlow (Los Angeles, CA): Andre Berto is being discussed as a possible opponent for Joshua Clottey for the soon to be vacant IBF belt. Who do you think wins this fight?

Vivek W: Personally, I think it’s still a bit early for Berto to take ths fight. 200 plus amateur fights helps, but I still think it’s a bit early in his professional career for this type of fight. No doubt, Berto is the perennial champ of the welterweight division at some point in the distant future. Trouble is, this fight isn’t happening in the distant future, it’s due to take place within the next couple months. My major concern about this fight is the following: At this point in his young career (only 3 1/2 years) Berto simply hasn’t been tested enough. He’s fought a few gritty fighters, but none have the power, the heart, the determination, or the drive that Clottey has. One thing that I think helped Miguel Cotto out tremendously is that Arum and his matchmakers constantly put him in the ring with a wealth of different styles; Torres (Power), Malinaggi (Slickness), Urkal (Unorthodox), Mosley (Speed, decent power), etc. For my ‘gamers’ out there, it’s sort of like a video game where each new phase introduces a new wrinkle to overcome before you reach that one opposition that employs them all at a very advanced stage. When you don’t bring a fighter along in this way, regardless of the talent he may have, it sets the stage for a situation where the skill confidence may not align well with his developmental confidence. Berto’s offense is great, but his defense is still a bit incomplete. Part of his developmental confidence was exposed as insufficient when he faced Rivera. He looked very well until Rivera saw an opening and exploited it – which was an uppercut that resulted in what was later dubbed a ‘flash’ knockdown. Rivera is a veteran who has much experience and when he went southpaw, it proved the inexperience of Berto who was visibly uncomfortable at times. Rivera doesn’t bring half the ability that Clottey does, and although Clottey isn’t considered to be in that Tier 1 level of welters out there, it should be duly noted that he’s only one fight away. What happens when Berto realizes that for once he’s in the ring with a fighter whose will to win is unrelenting? What happens when Berto realizes that this same guy has the power to hurt him, yet he doesn’t quite have the power to keep him off of him? All of these questions are gonna present themselves in this match-up and when it all boils down, I tell fight fans the same thing every time….”When it comes to pressure in fights, those above-average fighters step up, while those below average fighters wilt down”. Despite the great appearance, it’s safe to say that none of us truly knows what Berto will do, but with the help of a Joshua Clottey – who knows that he can’t squander another opportunity – we’re all sure to find out real soon!

Eric Munoz (Chicago, IL): There’s a lot of hype surrounding the Dela Hoya/Forbes fight because both trainers are Mayweather brothers. Which fighter do you think has the edge?

Vivek W: In this case I don’t think it really matters who the trainers are, Oscar is the better fighter. Period! That being said, Oscar has been a pupil of Floyd Sr. for only a few years. Forbes, on the other hand, has fought as a pupil of each of the Mayweathers at some point or another for basically his whole career. He’s spent time with Jeff, Roger, and Floyd Sr., and I think that has to account for something. Forbes is a formidable contender, but he’s a true jr. welterweight at best. He’s shown potential against bigger guys, but those bigger guys aren’t even close to Oscar’s caliber. This won’t be a walk in the park for Oscar either, but it will serve as a test against the one guy in the sport who has truly mastered the understanding for the ‘Mayweather Blueprint’. The shoulder rolls, the quick shots to the pit of the stomach, the quick reflexive motions, etc. There’s heavy emphasis in the Dela Hoya camp to keep that jab popping which is what he failed to do against Mayweather Jr. last May where he ended up losing the fight as a result. It’ll be interesting to see if Oscar – fighting at the 147lb weight limit for the first time since 2001 – can maintain his energy long enough to be consistent with his work-rate. Whispers from the dark have been silently stating that Oscar is not having an easy go at making the weight limit, and if this is the case, that could spell major fatigue issues late in the fight, producing the typical fatigue factor we’ve seen from him in the past. Forbes will respect Oscar’s power, but is coming to win and will press the action. If his stamina is where it normally is, this could be another Dela Hoya/Sturm waiting to happen. Only thing this time around, is that the interest to see another Oscar/Floyd match-up is already minimized, so if Oscar turns in a poor performance, there will be little to no buzz for another Floyd fight. In the end I see Oscar winning, but in a less than stellar performance because Forbes will outwork him and at points, possibly even outsmart him.

Marcus Edmond (Brooklyn, NY): Manny Pacquiao appears to be taking Diaz lightly but I don’t see him losing. What are your thoughts?

Vivek W: It’s actually a bit disconcerting to see a talent as great as Pacquiao seem so disinterested. His opponent is already training, yet his coach and advisers can barely even reach him. This same type of attitude allowed Buster Douglas to walk away from the ring a winner of epic proportions against another guy who didn’t take his ‘gift’ seriously. Pacquiao seems to be cut from that famous “If-you’re-not-living-life-on-the-edge, you’re-taking-up-too-much-room” cloth, and that rockers mentality will be his ultimate undoing. You take a true gym rat like a Floyd Mayweather Jr. who has been known to hit the gym at 3am after a night in the clubs and casino’s, and you understand what true dedication to your craft is. The trouble with Pac-Man is that when he takes time off, he takes time OFF! I just don’t know how he can allow himself to believe that he’s really that much better than his opposition. He’s stepping up to lightweight which is a first, which means he has to get acclimated to fighting at the higher weight. Some may argue that it should help him because he doesn’t have to lose as much, but the reverse side of that argument is that while he may make the weight easier, carrying that extra luggage – if not properly conditioned – can cause a fighter with his work-rate to exhaust quicker in a fight. I just think that Pacquiao has gotten away with this for too long and it’s only a matter of time before he gets exposed. He’s one of the most exciting fighters I’ve watched in a while, but his mentality can’t be good for him, and this luck I expect to soon run out.

Paul Matthews (New York, NY): Zab Judah has asked Shane Mosley to take a drug test before and after the fight based on Shane’s alleged previous use of illegal substances. How do you feel about Mosley’s past in light of this allegation?

Vivek W: As an athlete for many years, I know there are only two types of athletes. Those who do it naturally, and those who don’t. The only difference between the two is that one is concerned about what enters his body and the other is somewhere on the fence of being borderline concerned and simply willing to win at all cost. Those who do it naturally take the organics and natural resources because they want to protect their body from harmful things being deposited inside…Sweets, fats, cholesterol, etc. It’s just mind-boggling to me to wonder how can any athlete who won’t eat fried chicken or cake out of fear of being slowed down, be totally content taking a substance that will give them cancer, or some other issue that will one day stop them altogether? Total contradiction happening right there, and knowing Mosley as a guy who takes great care of his body, I’m just not sure I think he’d risk that, but no matter what the case, I just think there’s a few things to consider before stripping past accomplishments. You take the case of MLB star Barry Bonds. With Barry Bonds I always said, whether he was doping or not, after things got hot and heavy and the league was on his trail, he was still slappin’em out of every ball park he played in so that tells me that even once he stopped – if he actually did them – he still had the natural ability to employ incredible hand-eye coordination which is priceless and can’t be enhanced by ANY substance. That’s the proverbial ‘rib-of-life’ in his sport and he became a star because of it before any potential doping started. Similarly, with Mosley, whatever the case, he has been an incredible talent from day one, and not only that, but he’s been a great ambassador for the sport. Until something is actually proven, I find it hard to take away past accomplishments that were earned through blood, sweat, and tears. I don’t think we can do anything but accept his past for what it was – both good and bad – until we have a bona-fide reason to deny it. Yes, he did state that he took the substances ‘unknowingly’, but he’s been successful since then as well. Until more proof come out, I have no particular view on the matter. Only he knows and at the end of the day, that’s something he has to address with his family and fans if lied under oath.

Sharon Mureia (Hialeah, Fl): You wrote an article about female boxer Sandra Tsagouris Monday that was rare for Eastside Boxing but was great to see. What are your personal thoughts on females in professional sports, particularly boxing?

Vivek W: Personally, I learned from a very early age that women have equal potential as men. I grew up as a next door neighbor to current University of Miami head coach, Randy Shannon, in a very athletic neighborhood, but when it was time to play sandlot football, my younger sister – (currently a graduate of Florida State with a Masters Degree in Social Physchology) – (MSW) – was the first person everyone picked because she had an arm like Dan Fouts of the San Diego Chargers. Now granted, it was only a nerf football, (LOL), but the same drive and determination to win was within her and even as a 9, 10 year old, she had the ability to not only outrun some of the guys, but fling it 50 yards or so. Decades ago, most men felt a woman’s role was barefoot, pregnant, and standing in a kitchen, but in this day and age, things have changed, and like any person looking to be all that they can be, they’ve found a way to elevate their existence to new heights. Men question them because we’re not used to seeing it, but they have just as much right and ability to and for this profession, or any other, as us men do. My Mother always told my sisters: “Don’t be content just frying the bacon…learn to go out and get a few strips of your own as well”, and in effect, that’s what women in general have done. Being able to compete at such a high level like us men have in athletics is the final piece of the puzzle, giving most women a complete sense of equality in the eyes of man. They’re tennis players, they’re truck drivers, they’re race car drivers….why can’t they be boxers? They’re currently so much more! (Ok fellas, shhhh……That was the politically correct version, but we all have some ‘Obama’ in us when it’s time for the brownie points right? – Nothing like those politics)? *Wink/Wink*

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