Basil G. (Bronx, NYC): I think the Funeka/Guzman decision was disgusting and continued a trend that no one talks about in the sport. Would you not agree that there has always been a racial bias towards African born fighters in boxing?
Vivek W. (ESB): The outcome of this fight left me very much troubled. Seems that every time boxing picks up momentum, it finds a way to hand 90% of that momentum right back by doing something absolutely ridiculous like this. When you look at the euphoria surrounding Pacquiao’s emergence, as well as the return of Mayweather, among other things, it says a lot that such momentum can be so quickly taken away, but somehow, it was indeed.. I received a ton of calls and emails shortly after the fight, and naturally, most were supportive of Funeka. For the record, I DO NOT SUPPORT THE RACISM THEORY BEING TOSSED OUT, AT ALL, but I would have to concede that it is a huge contradiction on my behalf in the sense that I say there’s no direct racism involved, yet I don’t have a legitimate answer to combat those theories. It hadn’t struck me until you said it, but as you pointed out to me in the email, many of us fight aficionado’s out there would be hard-pressed to find one African born fighter to actually win a narrow decision in a fight staged in the U.S. or on a U.S. television network. (recent examples: Quartey, Mtagwa, Clottey, Funeka, etc).
Now, granted, there are a ton of other fighters who got jobbed recently in the sport who aren’t African, like Malignaggi, Collazo, Johnson, and a hand full of others, but the point being made is well taken. When I’m asked questions like “who was the last African fighter to get a decision in the U.S. or Canada”? Or “why can’t an African fighter get a decision in a big fight outside of their own continent”?…..and I don’t have a legitimate answer…..I have to recognize that whether I agree or not, there’s more to this point than me or any of us can truly account for. Personally, rather than focus on a possible bias, I think the focal point should shift to what can be done to remove any possible future corruptions. We can’t change the dark past, but we can brighten the future. My point….Until the sport develops ONE GOVERNING AUTHORITY to govern the sport, this kind of stuff will continue to happen. The only way it will stop is when decisions are overturned, examples are made, and licenses are permanently revoked!
David S. (Hollywood, FL): I think Lucian Bute is the best super-middleweight in the world. Would you agree that he would win the Super-6 tournament if he were in it?
Vivek W. (ESB): No. Not at all. And I think anyone that says that effectively delivers a slap to the face of every man in the tournament. I would be the first to say that Bute silenced his critics by showing that he can make adjustments and overcome certain obstacles, but similar to another potentially great young fighter who recently did that, (Chad Dawson), Bute still has quite a bit to prove. Andrade has a durable chin, but his lack of fundamental skills allowed him to fall victim to a man who knew to explore beyond that. I would venture to say that each of the men in the Super-6 Tournament, to include the younger guys like Dirrell and Ward, and also including the highly criticized Jermain Taylor, are better than Andrade. I love Andrade, but lets not get carried away! The biggest threat he had going into that fight was his power, and his poor defense allowed him to feel Bute’s before Bute felt his. What I did notice was that Bute can still be hit, and is still very suspect when a fighter can land with power. When you look at someone like Abraham, who he won’t be able to hit as much, yet will punish him with powershots at every turn, I don’t think for a second that Bute would do too well in that fight. Ward has the skills to outbox and potentially stop him. Dirrell has the speed and power to give him troubles. So does Froch, and Kessler. So, I think he would have been a great addition, but to say that he would win, hands down, I think is a great miscalculation. No question, no doubt!
Eric L. (Coral Springs, FL): I read your ‘Call Em Out Fridays’ article last week on Roy Jones jr., and thought you pegged him well. As a true fan of his, I wanted to know, do you think he can eventually recover his lost legacy?
Vivek W. (ESB): I find this to be a loaded question, because as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think he ever did anything to actually lose his legacy. Yes, he was knocked out. Yes, he lost badly to Calzaghe on points. But what’s lost in this whole thing is that there’s a funny irony involved. The most celebrated man in the sport right now, Manny Pacquiao, also suffered 2 devastating KO’s, a points loss, as well as received a couple disputed victories that could have gone either way. It was what Pacquiao did after those losses that has us captivated with him today. Similarly, Hopkins was defeated by Calzaghe, but cleaned that loss up beautifully with an absolute dismantling of Kelly Pavlik months later. Then there was Shane Mosley, who after losing to Cotto and barely slipping past Mayorga, went on to KO a granite-chinned Margarito in arguably one of his career best performances. There are a million examples of fighters who have used losses as stepping stones to catapult themselves to higher points in their career. So we can play that game all day long, but it ultimately falls back on the precise reason why people like Bert Sugar REFUSE to even discuss legacies of fighters who are still active in the sport. If Jones went on a tear and took out Green next week, then Hopkins, then Dawson, and say one of the Klitschko Bros.; what would that do for the argument of his legacy being destroyed? Bottomline, Jones got knocked off of his high horse and has subsequently done a helluva job showing us that he is destined to get back on. If he walked away today with another loss, he still has a place cemented in the book of all-time greats. No matter how high or low on the list, he’ll certainly be on the list. So all of this fodder about his legacy can be kicked around, but the end analysis will come from what he does and what he has done in the ring; not in the minds of people who don’t understand the fundamental principles behind viewing a total body of work.
Andres C. (Boston, MA): Is there any truth to the rumors spreading about Bute and Pavlik squaring off?
Vivek W. (ESB): It was reported that this fight is a consideration, but to be truthful, I don’t think Pavlik wants any part of Bute. Secondly, I don’t see the fight happening, because Pavlik has looked very suspect above 160, and Bute isn’t coming down in weight. Pavlik has proven that he has few answers for crafty fighters, or above average boxers. Categorically, Bute fits well into that group. Right now, I think it’s safe to say that that P-Train has come to a screeching halt, and until he proves to us that he is ready to compete with the best in the sport again, I will continue to say and firmly believe that he has been exposed. Post-Hopkins, it has been all fear factor from Pavlik. I jumped to his rescue after hearing the stories about his hand and the infections, but for him to take a fight within days of the initially scheduled showdown between he and the man most of us preferred to see him face, (Williams), leaves me with many questions and very little respect. All things remaining equal, if Bute could avoid his power, Bute wins that fight, easily!
Orin E. (Greenwich): I have heard Ricky Hatton’s name lately with Amir Khan, Marquez, Mayweather, and even Miguel Cotto. At this point in his career, do you think he has a legitimate shot against any of those fighters?
Vivek W. (ESB): No. Ricky Hatton has been able to get away for years with ballooning between fights, and barely taking care of himself; neither which will work on the level in which he now stands. I remember an old adage that states “if you’re not living life on the edge, you’re taking up too much space”. To some it was light humor, but to those like Hatton, it’s a very sad and unfortunate reality. His lifestyle is far too over the top for any true athlete. It didn’t matter before, because his level of competition wasn’t up to par and it came easy for him. Apparently, when Mayweather entered the equation, Hatton finally learned how to lose, and in doing so, he hasn’t appeared to re-learn how to win. You have to train twice as hard to maintain that championship status as you did to attain it in the first place. Apparently, Hatton never got that memo. As a result, he will never get beyond that hump. I would hate to see something happen to him, but clearly, the writing is on the wall, and if he doesn’t read, he’ll soon be forced to heed (the message). To answer your question, every last one of those men could knock him out. Some later than others, but every last one would KO Hatton. He simply isn’t serious enough anymore. (IMO)
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at email@example.com, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).