‘Left-Hook Lounge’: Vivek Wallace’s Mailbag feat. Roy Jones jr., Hopkins, Pacquiao, Dawson, & Groves

Martin B. (Bronx, NYC): In the past you’ve been very vocal about why you think Bernard Hopkins should be on the P4P list and I think his performance explained why. I know he has a brash personality and all, but I can only think of one reason why he isn’t on any one elses P4P list. It’s my personal opinion, but I would like to know what is yours (regarding why he isn’t on these other writers’ list)?

Vivek W. (ESB): This was yet another reason why I’ve always fancied fundamental skills over knockout ratio’s and star power. Putting cheeks-in-seats do very little in my estimation to hold any weight when it comes to the balance of power against fundamental skills. I’ve been ripped by many for saying that the way the mythical P4P mantra is handed out now days is a slap in the face to the man for whom the term was created, (Sugar Ray Robinson), but I maintain my position and this was why..

In the past I’ve spoken of the fact that fighters with a certain skill level have to be valued because they carry a proverbial “tool belt” that allows them to do whatever the job calls for. If they need a wrench, they pull out the wrench. If they need pliers, they pull out the pliers. If they need the hammer…..bam! They drop the hammer. Many have watched Hopkins win so many snoozefest over the years that they didn’t realize he had this much fight in him, and I always cracked up about that, because being a product of the streets and the penitentiary, the sport has literally not seen a more hardened guy in recent times!

Many will hear his background and listen to the stories, but never ask themselves “why is a guy this hard-nosed fighting such a boring style”? It actually humors me that people questioned whether or not he could bang and brawl! It’s borderline hilarious, but it just goes to show, some of these fighters aren’t in it to do what everyone wants them to do; they’re in this sport to support their families and do things how they want to do them, based on how they need to do them. Hopkins’ effort was nothing short of incredible, and the stats told a very intriguing story.

Pascal’s workrate (based on youth) was the one thing he had going for him against a more tactical fighter. So what strategy did Naazim Richardson and Bernard Hopkins employ going into the rematch? Take that workrate away from him by keeping a safe distance and striking ONLY when the moment is right. Floyd Mayweather jr. was marveled for pitching a shutout against the precision punching Juan Manuel Marquez, and he said all along that “it’s easy when you take away the jab, make a man miss his powershots, and make sure you land a high percentage of yours”.

Mayweather never let Marquez land more than 8 punches in any of the 12 rounds fought, took away the jab, and avoided most powerpunches as well. What did Hopkins do to Pascal? The proof of this blueprint was in the numbers: 4/14 was Pascal’s best round with jabs (4th), there were at least 3 rounds where Pascal threw at least 7 jabs and landed zero; also, there was only one round in the entire fight (12th) where Pascal landed more than 7 punches of any kind (power punches or jabs).

To ‘execute’ this well at age 46 is a testament to why I find defense to be equally important. It gave him a longevity most could only dream of, and I see no effective way to discount it, no matter how you see the P4P debate. The man is a legend. Period.

Darius W. (Miami Gardens, FL): I watched the Roy Jones jr. fight and find it criminal that he is even allowed to continue to box. I can’t imagine why he would continue to even try to box, other than financial concerns. What are your thoughts about where he was and where he is in the sport today?

Vivek W. (ESB): For starters, I don’t think any of us have to worry about seeing Roy Jones jr. in the ring again after witnessing the emotions of his family at ringside. As a huge fan of the sport and an even bigger fan of the man, I must say, it was absolutely humbling to see what we witnessed in what will undoubtedly be his final fight of his career. I thought the sequence of events that transpired were very intriguing in the sense that the way it happened practically paralleled the last stretch of his career. I say that in the sense the that there were stretches where he looked like he might still have it, but in the end (final round) not only did he fall short, but he did it in a brutal fashion.

Subsequently, I’ve always felt that the game of boxing parallels life in many ways, and when you closely analyze the rise and fall of Roy Jones jr., it’s nothing different from the battle every man faces with ego as life passes us by. Whether it be wealth, women, or worldly possessions, mans way of life is all based around hunger for more. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but there also has to be some type of intelligence, or neutralizing system to serve as damage control when that desire exceeds remaining ability.

In the case of Jones, the same ego that propelled him to accomplish the historical feat of moving up from super-middleweight to winning the ultimate crown as a heavyweight is the same ego that leads him to believe that he can still be competitive, even beyond the many humbling losses he continues to suffer. With proper judgement, youth, and ability it served him well. Unfortunately, those fading attributes did very little to fade his desire to pursue higher ground. This is where most aging greats lose the battle and never recover.

Had Jones jr. walked away after the Ruiz heavyweight clash, I think we’d be talking about him as the greatest fighter to ever lace up a pair, bare none, based on superlative talent. Of course some critics will look at his resume and that will ignite a new debate, but it would be exactly that……a debate! As of now, on the heels of these more recent developments, the strength of a supportive argument within that debate diminishes. I would like to think Jones isn’t broke and in financial ruins, but whatever the case my be, the time has come. I personally hope he never laces up a glove again. Not even in a recreational fashion.

Reggie E. (Atlanta, GA): I thought Dawson’s performance was subpar but I saw your thoughts on Facebook that actually gave him credit which I couldn’t really see or understand. Could you elaborate on your thoughts regarding his performance?

Vivek W. (ESB): Contrary to popular belief, I actually did think Dawson’s performance was good, but to elaborate on why I thought so, I could simplify it all by saying that it was more based on the fact that I graded this performance under new trainer Emanuel Steward as opposed to his last few performances which wasn’t. I think the last few performances from Dawson were subpar because fundamentally, he could be a good fighter, yet he appeared very ordinary. This time around, I saw better form and better execution, albeit still a very vanilla style.

People need to realize that Dawson will never be Pacquiao. In other words, stop looking for the guy to come out and go ‘balls-to-the-walls’, because you’ll die waiting for that one! Chad Dawson is a cautious fighter, and until he develops some strong confidence in himself, don’t expect to see him mount an offensive attack that lacks caution. He picks his spots, takes his time, and often seems very predictable when doing so.

When you realize this, you remove some of the expectations and simply judge him by victories and defeats. If he continues to build on what I saw and win, his confidence will rise, and eventually, his better days could very well lie ahead. Part of this, of course, is great matchmaking. If he lands across from the right men, his develop could result in us seeing what many felt we would one day from him. If he doesn’t……things could get real bad real fast. Right now I’m being patient and watching the evolution. Some movies start slow and end fast…….lets see if that subplot defines the man we know as “Chad”. Stay tuned.

Kerwin G. (London, UK): George Groves had an incredible victory over DeGale this past Saturday and I know you stated that you were pleased to see this. There are a number of great European fighters who the American media rarely talks about and I wanted to know your thoughts on Groves and a few of the others you like.

Vivek W. (ESB): I think right now, Groves, DeGale, and Cleverly lead the pack of Brit fighters I like and one day expect to see do big things. There are a ton of others, but to simplify it, these are all guys who I have watched and tried to support at a distance and I think they will all play their parts as time moves along. DeGale fell short, but the fight was a very close one and I think a few adjustments and a different angle or two from the judges and we could be talking about a totally different result.

So, I think the sky is the limit for him, and I think another thing that needs to be remembered is that Khan, Ortiz, and several others in the sport recently have taken an early loss and turned it into substantial gains. He’ll be back, and maybe better than ever before. Groves will continue to impress, and I think as long as he stays focused, we’ll see great things from him. In the case of Cleverly, I like what I see but there’s still a few things that need to fall in place for us to see him reach that ‘next’ level. Again, all of these guys look good, and it’ll take time, hunger, and evolution to see them reach their potential.

Jonathan N. (Orlando, FL): Everyone is so quick to jump on Pacquiao about the testing demands but no one is questioning a 46 year old Hopkins who looks amazingly young. This is a double standard to me, and I would like you to address it.

Vivek W. (ESB): I’ll keep this short and simple because personally, it’s a topic I’ve grown tired of discussing. Bottomline, the various commissions around the sport have stated that “they don’t have the money to test every athlete that fights in the states”, therefore they can’t, and won’t push the envelope, despite the need for better testing. In the case of Mayweather/Pacquiao and Hopkins/Pascal, these are situations where the fighters themselves have the right to make request and fund them.

Mayweather has just as much (if not more) legitimacy and leverage to request a test from any opponent he faces in the sport. Pacquiao has opted out, and it’s his prerogative. In the case of Pascal/Hopkins, Pascal doesn’t have the leverage to ask, and what bothers me there is that rather than wearing shirts and pursuing it in the public, I’d like to know why didn’t he have his manager and promotional company pursue this at the negotiating table?

An important factor to note here is that Hopkins was never formally asked at the negotiating table to do a test. It was mentioned publicly to enter the minds of the fans, and according to some, serve as a question mark if Hopkins defeated him (which of course we know now that he did). But Hopkins was never formally asked by Pascal’s team. So, people need to realize this and accept it for what it is.

In one case, a man flat out declined the option requested (Pacquiao); and in the other, one competitor went public saying that a fighter “should voluntarily take the test”, yet never formally asked him where it counts, or ever heard the requested state that he wouldn’t do it if asked. In my book this is apples and oranges, and an argument that needs to end fast, as it simply holds no weight in my humble opinion.

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

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Boxing News ‘Left-Hook Lounge’: Vivek Wallace’s Mailbag feat. Roy Jones jr., Hopkins, Pacquiao, Dawson, & Groves