‘Left-Hook Lounge’: Vivek Wallace’s Mailbag feat. Rios, Pacquiao, Conte, Donaire, & Pavlik

Jerome H. (Buffalo, NY): What are your thoughts on a possible matchup between Brandon Rios and Juan Manuel Marquez? I think this could be a “Fight of the Year” candidate? I would like to hear your thoughts.

Vivek W. (ESB): I agree…..absolutely! What we saw last weekend with Brandon Rios was inspiring on many different levels, but in Marquez, despite his age, you’re looking at things from a totally different level. What impressed me with Rios was his ability to weather the early storm, as it appeared to be a no-win situation early in the fight as Acosta leveled him from every angle without letting up! This was the type of fight that tells us everything we need to know about a fighter, in arguably his biggest ‘test’ of his career, Rios passed with flying colors.

Acosta had great power and very good skills, but when you look at someone like Marquez, you’re looking at someone who simply takes opposition to a totally new level. In Marquez, you have potentially the best precision puncher in the sport today. Also, you have a fighter with the ability to weather the storm himself, as evidenced in his fight with Pacquiao where he was dropped three times, yet still found a way to outbox the fightin’ Filipino over the last three quarters of the fight. Wherein Acosta ran out of fuel and fell victim to the powershots late in the fight, we know Marquez won’t meet such fate…..even in his older age!

So, I would agree, this could be a “Fight of the Year”, or better yet, when you consider this pairing together two Mexican warriors jockeying for supremacy, it’s not a far-fetched stretch to consider “Fight of the Decade” type honors. This would really be a great fight and I can only hope that it happens at some point soon. I won’t go on record with an official pick to win if it were to happen, but I’d sure as hell wanna sure I’m seated comfortably when the bell finally rings! I’d like to see Rios get a few more defenses in, but Marquez is gettin’ older. If it doesn’t happen w/in the next 8 months, I’m not so sure we’d see a best case scenario. Stay tuned.

Maurice W. (Charlotte, NC): I saw a vid on Youtube that had Victor Conte discussing steroid usage and other random facts about banned substances and it was truly eye-opening! I initially supported Pacquiao’s decision not to bow down to Mayweather’s demands, but I would have to agree now that it’s much bigger than pride. Now that you’ve heard the audio as well, how much pressure do you think this puts on Arum/Team Pacquiao to ultimately do the test?

Vivek W. (ESB): Short answer to your question….none! I think Pacquiao, Arum, and all other parties involved within their camp know full well the inherent dangers associated with not testing, and those dangers have not forced them to comply up to this point, so one has to logically assume that this won’t change. Long answer…….perhaps the more insight on the topic comes out, the more the pressure could build; but at the end of the day that still could mean very little.

On the video that you’re referring to, which was an interview on “On The Grind Radio”, hosted by Suge Green, it should be duly noted that the questions were not organized to serve as a ‘smoking gun’. It was a segment of very neutral questions which were designed to accomplish what they accomplished…..which was simply to shine light on an otherwise dim subject matter. Conte, Green, and no one else involved on the radio show intended for this matter to serve as a focal point in any athletes life, but as I’ve stated all along, when you’re the only athlete gutsy enough to publicly decline a randomized test, immediately you subject yourself to this type of speculation because, in effect, you’re preventing the sole option known to man with enough power to render you clean.

Hearing Pacquiao say that it would weaken him, or viewing it as a move to boost negotiation leverage (for Mayweather) was a clever tactic to the casual fan, but for those out there who seek transparency, there’s no question and no doubt that not taking the test, regardless of whatever the reason may be, only hurt Pacquiao in the end because this speculation has reached a peak. For me personally, it was never a matter of believing what the Mayweather’s said! It all came down to realizing that (as Conte duly noted) there are options like “stem cell injections” and “fast acting testosterone’s” which you could use gels and creams for which will show no traces “in one day”.

By Conte’s admission, these things will “make you stronger, and promote healing, and increases the amount of muscle strength that you have”! He went on to say (paraphrased) “if you use these methods by I.V., as opposed to injection through the stomach, you can take your dosage which may only be required every 10 days and it would be out of your system by the next day”! In a later portion of the clip he spoke about how this type of usage produces greater energy levels, allowing “one man to be still going in the championship rounds while the other is completely gassed out”)!

In his words, the feats recently accomplished by Pacquiao are “certainly suspicious”, and in a prior portion of the clip he also stated that circumventing today’s test is “a piece of cake”! This is a man who was once credited for actually engineering these substances. Some may like him, others may be less committed, but one thing no one can deny is that this man is an absolute genius at his craft and knows the genetic ‘trail’ of this stuff better than any of us ever will. Again……there is no way to excuse an athlete in a bloodsport who refuses to take a randomized test up until the day of the event. If you didn’t agree before, certainly you have to after hearing this piece. Check out the clip for yourself (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBmK8ff-ybg) – (Start from about 4:25 and let ‘er rip)!

Angel R. (Portland, OR): I heard you touch on this topic and I’d like you to clarify. I”m a huge fan of Nonito Donaire and would like to know who you think would win a bout between he and a prime Marco Antonio Barrera?

Vivek W. (ESB): Basically, my reason for bringing up this hypothetical scenario was to validate a point of mine relative to the recent P4P discussion with Donaire. My point was that (as I mentioned in the Youtube video clip recently) the true textbook definition of P4P isn’t about simply being one of the best in the current state of the sport, or one of the best in this particular era, because you can be one of the best in the sport today and not be one of the best in the sport all time.

The true P4P definition encompasses having a level of transcendent talent that would allow that particular fighter to compete against not only his generation, but any other, regardless of weight, size, etc. In other words, if this particular man was born a bantamweight, could that skillset he has allow him to compete against the best bantamweights of past generations? If he was born a heavyweight, could his particular skillset allow him to compete against the best heavyweights of past and present generations, and so forth. In the case of Donaire, I was saying that he’s one of the best fighters today, but could you really say that he would have been able to simply walk through, or even defeat a prime Marco Antonio Barrera campaigning at bantamweight?

I have been the biggest fan of Donaire’s talent, but never in a million years would I forecast him winning that fight. Perhaps one day I will, but at this early stage, I don’t think we can say he truly has reached that greatness, and when you use the logic of 99.9% of the other boxing scribes out there who want to catapult him to the #2 or #3 P4P spot, it basically suggest that if Pacquiao were to struggle against Mosley, and that effort be followed by a solid Donaire victory, you’d essentially be willing to forget Pacquiao’s storied history and allow Donaire to bypass him, despite a very thin resume against elite competition. So, I just don’t agree with that logic and never will. Is he one of the best today? Absolutely. Is he one of the best P4P fighters, by text book definition? Not yet. And that comes from an avid fan.

Christian E. (Orlando, FL): Kelly Pavlik is preparing to return to the ring. What are your thoughts about him and his future?

Vivek W. (ESB): To be quite frank, I don’t really have any thoughts. In many ways, I think Pavlik has been his own biggest nightmare. I won’t speak on alleged drinking problems because that’s a bit peripheral in my book; but what I will say is that as it all relates to him being in the ring, I simply think had he been more focused and less distracted by whatever legitimately distracted him, perhaps he’d still have a true career in the sport. Right now, he’s a young man with a lot of unfulfilled promise that’s unfortunately one step loss or bad performance away from losing his entire career and I hope he realizes this.

Perhaps mega-stardom came to easy or too fast for him. He was literally a nobody, became a somebody overnight, and a date with Hopkins that many thought would be a walk in the park turned out to be the initial step in a loss that would derail his entire career. I hope that he can get himself back to the level that he was at, but he has a few challenges. The biggest one being the fact that he appears to be too heavy to fight at 160, but doesn’t carry enough pop, speed, or ability to run with the big dogs at 168. Ward, Dirrell, and company would eat him alive.

At 160 there’s better odds for success, but apparently he will campaign at a weight class he and manager Cameron Dunkin said he’d never be part of again (at one point). So, it all remains to be seen. I would certainly never underestimate the heart of a champion, but right now, I don’t think Pavlik is championship material…….so perhaps it’s not totally unsafe to underestimate him. I question a lot about him right now. It’s his job to remove all doubt. Stay tuned.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6TCPrQLbjw

(Vivek Wallace can be reached at vivexemail@yahoo.com, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEKWALLACE747), Skype (VITO-BOXING), & Facebook).