MIA: 10 Fighters Who Are Missing In Action

by Paul Magno

One of the most basic keys to being a successful pro boxer is to make yourself a known commodity among fans. Here is a list of 10 current fighters who were either there on on their way to Boxing stardom, but allowed inactivity to get in the way of their trajectory.

Winky Wright- After a two-year period which saw him beat Shane Mosley twice, dominate Felix Trinidad, score a solid win over Ike Quartey and fight to controversial draw against Jermain Taylor, It seemed obvious that Winky was finally on the verge of getting the mainstream success his skills deserved. Then, he got a PPV beat-down by Bernard Hopkins in July of ’07 and hasn’t been heard from since. Nothing’s on the horizon for Wright and if he ever fights again, it’ll be late ’09 at the earliest.

Joan Guzman- Graced with HOF skills, but doomed with the work ethic of a rich kid working in Daddy’s company, Guzman has only fought twice since December of 2006. Most recently, he ate himself out of the biggest fight of his career-  a shot at reigning World Lightweight champ, Nate Campbell. At 31, Guzman’s days as a Wonder Boy are gone and we have yet to see what Guzman is truly capable of…If he doesn’t get his act straight, we may never have the priveledge of saying that we saw a prime Guzman compete against the very best.

Luis Collazo- After his embarrassing loss to Shane Mosley in February of ’07, Collazo has only been in the ring once, against a very pedestrian 9-4-1 opponent. With only a tentative bout against TBA on the horizon and little in the immediate past, Collazo needs to take a serious look at how his career is being managed. Finding a way to KO his contract with Don King will be his biggest win.

Demetrius Hopkins- After being one of the most active world-class fighters in the sport, with 12 fights taking place between 2005 and 2007, Hopkin’s promotional deal with Golden Boy hit the skids and he’s been warming the bench ever since November of ’07. Instead of taking advantage of his biggest win to date, a UD win over Steve Forbes, his career has stalled. A change of promoters has yielded just one fight which he had to cancel due to not making weight. Nothing of note awaits Hopkins in the immediate future.

Verno Phillips- Veteran fighters need more time between fights to recover, but one fight per year for the last 3 years is a bit much. The 38 year old Phillips scored a big win over Cory Spinks in March of this year to once again become a world champ, but any career momentum he had attained is long gone now. Another King fighter, Verno may consider the benefits of ditching Mr. “Only in America.”

Shannon Briggs- This one-time lineal World Heavyweight champ was never a gifted fighter and he never was one to boast a world-class work-ethic. However, he does talk a good game and he has a very recognizable image. Since his tame-as-a-lamb performance against Sultan Ibragimov, Briggs has gone MIA from active participation as a fighter…and from the shape he looks to be in, booking another bout is not a priority.

Reggie Johnson– After being inactive from 2002 to 2008, with just one fight in all that time, Johnson claimed to be making a comeback and won the marginal IBA Lightheavyweight title title against Julio Cesar Gonzalez. With a division full of solid fights, it looks as though the 42 year old is once again content to run out the clock on his career.

Vassiliy Jirov- Since losing twice in a row, to Joe Mesi and Michael Moorer, in his experiment with fighting at Heavyweight, Jirov had seemed on a mission to get back down to Cruiserweight where he belongs. His weight gradually diminished and he was starting to look sharper. However, the path back to world-class status stalled in July of ´07 and nothing’s been heard from him since- Hardly the ideal way to go about making a comeback.

Elvir Muriqi- Make no mistake, “The Kosovo Kid” is little more than a very solid club fighter. However, in June of ’07, he fought the fight of his life, against a world-class Antonio Tarver, and very nearly pulled off the upset. Muriqi ended up losing a narrow Majority Decision, something he could’ve easily parlayed into a handfull of nicely-paying TV fights. Instead, he’s only fought one time since then- a meaningless, low-paying bout in  a smokey club.

Vivian Harris- Inactivity has plagued Harris for the last 5 years of his career, possibly robbing the Boxing world of being able to see what he could really do at his best. Harris is famous for his lack of focus during fights, but its hard to tell if that lack of focus has caused his inactivity or if his inactivity has caused his lack of focus. In any case, he’s scheduled to fight the dreaded TBA in late October and it’ll be his first fight since losing to Junior Witter in September of ’07.

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2 responses to “MIA: 10 Fighters Who Are Missing In Action

  1. Of the guys Paul lists, Shannon Briggs might be the one we’re least likely to ever see fight again.
    He said he was retiring after the loss to Ibragimov, carping about “boxing politics.” He didn’t reflect (not aloud, anyway) that he averaged 20 punches thrown and four landed per round in that fight.
    In the year and a half since, Briggs has backed off the retirement talk and done a lot of talking otherwise since–he’ll knock out Klitschko, he’ll fight anyone–the standard stuff, all with zero backup. It’s kind of unfortunate, because there are fights out there for Briggs, he seems like a good guy, and people would still pay to see him. He did good work as broadcaster on “Friday Night Fights.” But as Paul alludes to here, anyone who saw Briggs knew that he was at least 40 pounds away from being in any kind of fighting shape.

  2. We’re coming up on 11 months since the “Contender” finale that some were calling a F.O.Y. candidate. Bika’s got Manfredo in November for an IBO title, but it’s like Jaidon Codrington’s gone underground.

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