Tag Archives: Paul Magno

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Paul

Boxing’s Prospects Fail to Make It to the Promised Land

by Paul Magno

Something’s been happening to boxing’s young prospects.

Actually, something’s not happening to them: They’re not winning.

The latest example was in this past Saturday’s Latin Fury 10 PPV, which saw highly-regarded Lightweight prospect, acosta-antillonUrbano Antillon, taste the canvas, and defeat, for the first time against the unknown Venezuelan stylist, Miguel Acosta.

On a personal note for Antillon, he failed in his attempt to win the vacant Interim WBA Lightweight title and failed to live up to the hype that had him regarded by Larry Merchant of HBO as a “can’t miss” future superstar.

However, in the big picture, Antillon’s inability to cope with simple lateral movement spoke of a greater problem behind the scenes of the sport. It spoke of a future generation of star athletes who are simply not being taught the skills to go along with their athletic promise.

The list of failed prospects in recent weeks is almost comical:

*Well-regarded amateur stand-out, Juan Carlos Velasquez, is defeated by Mexican journeyman, Jose Beranza, on Friday Night Fights. Velasquez actually seemed to be shocked and surprised that Beranza would fight back.

*Colombian banger, and destroyer of fellow prospect, Amir Khan, Breidis Prescott is outpointed by Miguel Vazquez, basically, because he had no idea how to deal with Vazquez’s head movement.

*Golden Boy’s Victor Ortiz is battered and psychologically torn down by Marcos Maidana, the first fighter with the nerve to actually keep fighting when confronted with the force of a “future superstar.”

*Alfredo Angulo is bested by Kermit Cintron because of his utter inability to deal with lateral movement, even when that lateral movement comes from a non-speedster like Cintron.

*Deandre Latimore is out-slugged by, of all people, a flat-footed and immobile Cory Spinks. deandre_latimore

One by one, the prospects are falling from contention and they’re not being replaced by veteran stars like in the case of Bernard Hopkins’ one-sided schooling of Kelly Pavlik.

Many of these young talents are being beaten by the products of hardcore boxing gyms in Latin America. They’re being beaten by fighters who, 10 or 20 years ago, would’ve been little more than a snack for talented athletes on their way to titles.

So, what’s the problem? What’s happening to our young lions?

Part of the problem rests in the fact that “old school” boxing trainers are mostly a thing of the past in the United States. For every Freddie Roach, there are a couple dozen trainers who would be better-suited working an aerobics class.

Serious boxing gyms are disappearing and the quality trainers are literally dying off.

There simply aren’t enough of the blood-and-guts Teddy Atlas-types who will take the time to teach their kids solid fundamentals and the value of being mentally prepared as a professional.

Instead, they are fed into an amateur system which now values arm-punches and “back-foot” fighting over a professional defense and a workable inside game.

In the modern amateur game, points are valued more than power and a light jab is a bigger asset than solid body punching.

It’s no wonder young fighters seem to be lacking a certain degree of mental toughness these days.

The second reason for this apparent failure of the young prospects has to do with our culture.

We are in a culture of instant gratification where anything worth having better be had right now.

It takes a lifetime to become a fundamentally solid professional boxer. It’s something that takes blood, sweat and tears. Hour after hour is spent going over one basic move, until it’s perfected.

Unfortunately, in a prize-fighting world of flailing, crude UFC brawls and “extreme” instant gratification, many young people simply don’t have the patience or dedication to sweat for hours at a time on something as mundane as learning how to walk the ring.

The scary part is that, at some point, those boxers who have taken the time to learn their craft, will retire, leaving behind this crop of talented, but not fundamentally sound pretenders.

Then, what will boxing look like?

Discuss This Topic on the BTBC Message Board!

Kelly Pavlik: Anatomy of a Fallen Star

by Paul Magno

Buried among the Pacquiao-Cotto-Mayweather headlines is the sad story of Kelly Pavlik and his decision to check pavlik shadowinto an alcohol rehabilitation center yesterday.

This piece of news is a fittingly sad ending to Pavlik’s wild 2-year ride from unknown Ohio toughman to unlikely world champion superstar to inactive and demoralized divisional “also ran.”

The Youngstown, Ohio native achieved his fame the old fashioned way: By fighting hard, fighting often and slowly working his way into the public eye.

Pavlik fought on every undercard imaginable- From Mexican fight cards on Telemundo to ESPN undercards to local televised boxing shows where there were probably more people at the live event than watching on TV. Wherever there was a show, Kelly Pavlik was willing to fight.

So, by the time he fought his way up to his first title eliminator bout against Edison Miranda on HBO, most hardcore fight fans had seen Pavlik at least a couple of times and were aware that this was a gutsy, blue collar fighter who came to hit hard and knock his opponents out.

“The Ghost” took the fight to the back alley brawler, Miranda, and eventually beat the tough Colombian down in an exciting encounter which stood out glowingly next to that card’s lackluster main event of Jermain Taylor vs. Cory Spinks.

Pavlik’s next fight was the high point of his career as he battled back from a hard knock down in the second round and went on to grab the WBO and WBC Middleweight Titles from Taylor via seventh round TKO.

Next came the career mismanagement that would cost Pavlik his undefeated record, his status as an upcoming superstar and, quite possibly, his very peace of mind.

Bob Arum and Top Rank, Pavlik’s promotional company, immediately took their developing star and put him on PPV in a non-title rematch against Jermain Taylor at Super Middleweight. The event sold moderately well, but it was not the move of someone looking after the long-term career success of their new star. Other than another notch on his record and a nice payday, Pavlik got very little from this bout that played out in front of a fraction of the audience that would’ve been available to him on HBO.

Next, came a mandatory defense against WBO #1 challenger, the hapless, Gary Lockett. Kelly disposed of the Brit in three lopsided rounds that did little to endear him to HBO fans who were looking to see their new hero in yet another war.

Then came one of the worst decisions ever made by a management team regarding a young, rising star. They decided to accept the challenge of the 43-year old legend, Bernard Hopkins.

“The Executioner” Hopkins was famous for taking fighters and literally turning them to mush by negating every weapon in their arsenal. Even in defeat, the veteran always managed to nullify his opponents’ best weapons and make them look horrible. Nobody since a prime Roy Jones Jr. in 1993 has looked good against Hopkins. Not only was the relatively one-dimensional Pavlik signed to fight the old pro, but he would do so at a catchweight of 170 lbs., two weight classes and ten pounds above his normal fighting weight.

By now everyone knows what happened: Hopkins twisted the kid up and schooled him over 12 one-sided rounds. And to add insult to injury, the PPVshow was a total bust and didn’t even reach 200,000 buys.

So, with a bruised ego and a refusal from HBO to air his next bout (another mandatory defense of the 160 lb. crown against Marco Antonio Rubio), Pavlik once again went to PPVin another poorly-received event that saw him share the bill with another rebounding star, Miguel Cotto.

Since then, his bout against The Contender’s Season One winner, Sergio Mora, originally proposed for the 27th of June, was postponed due to a staph infection, but very well could’ve been postponed due to Pavlik’s growing personal problems or the poor early reception of Sergio Mora as an opponent.

In about a period of two years, Pavlik has run the full gamut of boxing highs and lows.

Before the ill-conceived Hopkins bout, one could point to Pavlik’s career as an example of how careers used to be built; of how a career should be built. Pavlik’s rise to stardom was based on Free TV exposure against a wide range of opponents and packaged around a hard-working, likeable kid from a blue collar town that should not be producing stars.

Somewhere along the way, greed got mixed into the equation and Top Rank/Team Pavlik opted for the quick buck rather than the slow, but steady rise to superstardomthat would’ve resulted from increased exposure on “free” HBO.

Lost in the mix was a kid in his mid-20’s dealing with sudden stardom and immediate demoralization- all over the course of twenty four short months.

“The Ghost” is a fighter in every sense of the word, so there’s no doubt that he will be back.

But before Kelly Pavlik can regain his boxing mojo, he’ll have to fight the fight of his life, against the toughest opponent imagineable…himself.

Floyd Mayweather Jr: Master of Space and Time?

by Paul Magno

For the critics of Floyd Mayweather Jr., there seems to be no middle-ground; No possibility whatsoever that may-hatwhat they say and what they’ve heard is not the absolute gospel.

Mayweather ducked all the best fighters at Welterweight…and that’s the end of the conversation for them.

They point to names like Cotto, Mosley and Margarito and then point to Mayweather’s ring record. “He fought none of them! None of the best Welterweights of today!”

But when we look deeper and dig a little further we begin to see the holes in their arguments.

The timelines don’t match up and for Mayweather to have truly fought the list of fighters he allegedly ducked, it would’ve required him to do some time-bending that would put to shame anything ever written by H.G. Wells.

Floyd Mayweather is an outstanding fighter, but he is most definitely no match for the space-time continuum.

So, timeline and ring records in hand, I’m going to run through the list of fighters that Mayweather is accused of ducking and demonstrate how things aren’t always as they appear to be and that perception sometimes overrides reality.

I intend to show that the fighters in question were, for the most part, fringe players when Mayweather was active and, therefore, not even worthy of a fight, much less fearsome enough to be ducked.

I’ll cover the portion of his career from April of 2006, as Mayweather prepared to fight Zab Judah in his first major bout at Welterweight until his official retirement after the Ricky Hatton bout in December of 2007.

Antonio Margarito

 The tale of Mayweather ducking Margarito has been passed down from message board to message board and margarito2from blog to blog, but it has very little validity when examined.

When Mayweather was about to fight Judah, Margarito was just coming off a fourteen month layoff and had just defended his WBO title against dubious challenger, Manuel Gomez.

Margarito would go on to take another ten month hiatus before fighting an, at the time, unknown Joshua Clottey. Margarito was being outclassed early on until Clottey suffered injuries to his hands and had to spend the last two-thirds of the bout just surviving. It was hardly a star-making performance by “The Tijuana Tornado.”

Margarito would follow the Clottey win with a loss to Paul Williams followed by a comeback blow-out against journeyman Golden Johnson.

Margarito’s popularity and credibility as a top challenger wouldn’t spike until his win over Miguel Cotto- about 8 months after Mayweather’s retirement.

While Mayweather was chasing the lineal 147 lb. championship and beating Ring Magazine’s #1 and #2 ranked Welterweights at the time, Margarito was well in the background as an inactive fringe champion who was only known among a relative few hardcore fans and had yet to set himself apart.

Shane Mosley

The ducking of “Sugar Shane” accusation is a relative new one, but let’s examine the time line of this one as well.Margarito Mosley Boxing

When Mayweather was staking his claim in the division, Mosley was one division to the North at 154 going toe-to-toe with Fernando Vargas in a pair of bouts.

Mosley then came down to 147 where he had a very impressive performance against Luis Collazo.

However, a month before Mayweather’s retirement, Mosley would lose a close unanimous decision to Miguel Cotto.

In reality, Mayweather and Mosley only shared the division for about ten months- a period of time that saw Mosley win one and lose one.

This hardly established a burning case for a Mayweather-Mosley showdown.

Paul Williams

Frankly put, Williams and Mayweather only shared a prominent role in the Welterweight williamsXdivision for about five months, between his win over Margarito and his stunning upset loss to Carlos Quintana.

Mayweather could’ve rushed in and forced a fight with the tall, awkward southpaw, but nobody was rushing to fight Williams and the upset loss effectively cut him from the picture for the time being.

Miguel Cotto

Cotto wasn’t even in the same division as Mayweather until a month after Mayweather became the lineal world CottoXchamp by outclassing Baldomir. That adds up to about a year where both fighters were even in the same division.

Cotto earned his spot at the top of 147 by beating Judah and Mosley in exciting, well-attended, but ultimately disappointing PPV shows.

Mayweather, in almost direct point/counterpoint was busy taking part in the biggest PPV of all-time (vs. Oscar de la Hoya) and a near-million seller (vs. Hatton).

By the time Cotto had established himself as a player at Welterweight, Mayweather already had plans to get out while still young.

Could Mayweather have turned down the Oscar and Hatton fights to have it out with Cotto? Of course…but what fighters in history would turn down 20 million dollar checks and mega-events in favor of a third of the money and one-eighth the publicity?

Final Analysis

When looking back on Mayweather’s recent career, we have to be careful to put things into their proper perspective and clearly analyze what went down- not with the negative benefit of hindsight, but with the ability to fairly see things as they were.

When Mayweather first moved up to Welterweight, he called out a Zab Judah who had just ripped Cory Spinks to shreds and was ranked on many pound-for-pound lists. Judah was, far and away, the consensus #1 Welterweight in the world.

Judah ended up being upset by Carlos Baldomir and the the Argentinian became lineal champ.

Mayweather beat Judah first and then went after Baldomir to complete his sweep of Ring Magazine’s top two mayweather2arated Welters- Regardless of what would later on happen to the careers of the two Mayweather victims, they were considered the top 2 at the time.

Then, the real public relations problems began for Mayweather.

The newly-crowned lineal champ cashed in on his growing fame by opting for a huge money fight against De la Hoya; A fight that everyone from 140 to 154 would gladly have taken instead of a mandatory defense for a fraction of the money.

The Hatton fight followed. Another blockbuster payday for a fighter just starting to make the mega-bucks of some of the other stars of the sport.

If Mayweather’s guilty of anything it’s trying to cash in on a lifetime of hard work in order to secure his financial future after retirement.

This is a crime that, in my opinion, is 100% forgivable in a sport that is famous for not taking care of its own after they cease to be vital.

Mayweather could’ve insisted on fighting relative unknowns for fractions of what he could’ve made elsewhere, but what fighter given the same circumstances would do that? Right…none.

So, while the name Floyd Mayweather may have a visceral effect in your belly and cause you to explode in a rage of self-righteous condemnation, I ask you to think.

Are the timelines matched-up properly?

Is it fair to ask a fighter to give up his biggest paydays in favor of bouts with your personal favorites?

Is it intellectually honest to expect a 2006 Floyd Mayweather to beat 2009’s best Welterweights?

Step aside from the hyperbole and mob mentality when it comes to Floyd and put some serious analysis behind the rhetoric.

We are unfairly putting Mayweather into the no-win situation of having to defend himself against allegations of ducking the best; Not the best fighters of his time, because he did beat them, but the fighters that would eventually go on to be the best welterweights nearly three years later.

Mayweather can do a lot of things, but time travel is not one of them.

5 Fights to Bring Boxing Back to the Mainstream

by Paul Magno

The cure for almost everything negative in Boxing is exposure. With more people watching and with the “legit” press keeping a keen eye on the goings on, some of the shadier aspects of the sport would simply cease to exist. As it is now, treated as a fringe sport and relegated to the sports section, behind high school baseball, the scoundrels call the shots and can pretty much do anything their dark hearts desire.

The ideal road for Boxing to get back into the mainstream is for it to return to free, network TV, but with the way the sport’s currently structured, that would be an impossibility. The premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime have exclusive deals with the bigger fighters and the promoters have adapted the “pay per view mindset” of wanting to pocket quick cash from the sport’s most loyal fans.

So, the best road to mainstream respectability for Boxing would be to fight its way back into the same level as other major sports like baseball, football and basketball. Smart, quality match-ups and aggressive promotion are the keys to getting Boxing some face time on Sportscenter and back on your local TV news’ sports report.

Here are 5 bouts that would help get the sport back into the nation’s collective unconscimay-paq1ous:

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao: This is a no-brainer. With Oscar De la Hoya out of the picture, Mayweather and Pacquiao represent the two biggest draws in the sport. Aside from the obvious pound-for-pound angle of the sport’s two best getting it on, the lead-in publicity would be insane. Mayweather plays his role as a new era Hip-Hop bad guy to perfection while Pacquiao has the “quiet warrior” act down pat. The contrast in personalities and the inherent skill level involved in this contest would be undeniably appealing to everyone in the sporting press.

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Vitali Klitschko: Imagine the pathos of a “Brother vs. Brother” Heavyweight Title Unification bout? Even the most avid anti-Boxing producer on Sportscenter would have to give this bout its proper klit bros.attention. This would be the type of event that would draw the attention of both fans and non-fans alike and, while most of the publicity around this bout would surely be negative, it would absolutely bring the sport of Boxing back into the realm of current events. This fight has zero possibility of happening since both brothers have flatly stated that they would never fight one another, but it would definitely provide a boost for the lagging Heavyweight division as well as for the sport itself.

Bernard Hopkins vs. Roy Jones Jr. II: A lot has changed since these two first-ballot Hall of Famers first fought jones vs. hopback in 1993. While a blazing Jones solidly defeated a tentative Hopkins 16 years ago, the shoe is most definitely on the other foot now as a 40-year old Jones has been relegated to the spot of a fringe fighter while the 44-year old B-Hop is still classified as a Top 10 Pound-for-Pound fighter. Jones is currently close to signing a fight with Jeff Lacy and Hopkins has most recently been rumored in negotiations with Cruiserweight champ Tomasz Adamek and Super Middleweight titlist, Carl Froch. However, the only truly big fight remaining for either fighter is a rematch of their 1993 encounter. Neither Jones nor Hopkins will find any opponent more marketable than one another. Given their ages and the relative weak shape of the Light Heavyweight division, this is the only fight that makes sense for either…and probably the only chance either has at PPV success. A smart promoter, though, would forego the immediate pay-out of PPV and opt to try and put this battle of the legends on free TV. The fight itself isn’t likely to make waves or win over new fans, but the publicity and realtive importance of this match-up would push it into the public eye.

Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito II: After Margarito’s one year suspension is up, the hype could begin, cotto vs. margarito1even with the foul taste of Margarito’s plaster-coated handwrap controversy still fresh in the mouths of fans. In Boxing, popularity and notoriety are two offspring of the same twisted and distorted creature. But this one would have it all…Of course, the heated Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry would be in effect, but more importantly, the universal concept of redemption would be in play. Cotto would be seeking redemption from his previous loss to Margarito; A loss that he feels was unjustified since Margarito may have been using illegally-loaded handwraps to beat him down. Margarito would be looking for his own redemption by proving to the world that he is indeed a world class Welterweight without having to resort to underhanded tactics. Imagine the intrigue and drama of a camera tightly focused on Margarito’s hands as they’re wrapped carefully for the world to see. The first bout sold over 500,000…this one would easily double that and it would earn a ton of mainstream press in the process.

Kelly Pavlik vs. Arthur Abraham: This one would be big, not for the bout itself, but for the fact that it could Kelly-Pavlik-Arthur-Abrahamrestore Kelly Pavlik to his previous position of money machine on the verge of mainstream popularity. Pavlik was knocked down several pegs when he was absolutely schooled and dominated by Bernard Hopkins last year, but there’s nothing better to restore the shine to a young, blue-collar, power-punching Middleweight champion than a thrilling win over a cocky European champion who calls himself  “King.” A win over “King” Arthur Abraham puts Pavlik back into  the Americana stereotype of humble underdog athletes fighting their ways to the top.

Could also Bring on Mainstream Attention:

Oscar De la Hoya vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Oscar is supposedly retired, but so was Mayweather. This one would be an easy sell for so many reasons.

Ricky Hatton vs. Amir Khan: Should Khan get by Andreas Kotelnik for the WBA Jr. Welterweight title, we’d have the perfect UK encounter of a beloved ex-champ (Hatton) against the next big thing (Khan).

Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Israel Vazquez: Mexico vs. Puerto Rico, Old Warrior vs. Young Warrior…If Vazquez isn’t totally burnt out after the Marquez Trilogy, this will be the type of war that will be revered for generations to come.

David Haye Comes to America: If Haye gets by both Klitschko brothers to become a 3-belt Heavyweight champ, his arrival in America would be huge. The United States has been thirsty for a trash-talking, flashy big man for the longest time. Haye could definitely be what American fight fans need.

Andre Ward’s Mid-Term Exam

by Paul Magno

Every top prospect or talented newcomer has to eventually face that one special fighter who stands between him andre-mirandaand the world class stage- A tough gatekeeper who is able, and more than willing, to beat back the challenge of the kid and send him back to the land of wannabe stars and “coulda been” contenders.

Manny Pacquiao had his Agapito Sanchez, Kelly Pavlik had his Bronco McKart, Miguel Cotto had his Cesar Bazan…even Vitali Klitschko had his Herbie Hide.

Some fighters fail these mid-term exams and get sent back to the drawing board. Most recently, the names Andy Lee, James McGirt Jr., Ronald Hearns and John Duddy come to mind. It’s possible to come back and have a successful career after failing the mid-term (For example: Wladimir Klitschko’s solid “F” against Ross Purrity), but more often than not, that first real loss against their first real challenge puts a certain taint on the rest of their career, regardless of what successes come next.

Andre Ward is facing his mid-term this Saturday, the 16th, in the form of trash-talking Colombian slugger, Edison Miranda. The pressure will be extra heavy on Ward’s shoulders for this one because, not only is he facing the threat of his first live opponent with legit one-punch KO power in both fists, but he’s also carrying the burden of being America’s last Olympic Boxing Gold Medalist. The expectations are extra high for medal-winning Olympians, but they go through the roof if that medal is of the gold variety. Anything short of a dominant, explosive win will be seen as a let down to the fans who are expecting the world of a fighter talented enough to bring home the gold. After all, its become somewhat of a tradition, from Muhammad Ali to Sugar Ray Leonard to Oscar De la Hoya,  for American fighters to transition from Olympic glory to legendary status.

You can’t help but be reminded of another young Olympic Gold Medalist who came into his first big fight with similar pressure: “The American Dream” David Reid.

reid-trinidadReid was the defending WBA Jr. Middleweight champ as he met the challenge of Welterweight titlist, Felix Trinidad. Expectations were high for Reid; He had been handed a very lucrative contract by HBO and rumors were rampant about him fighting everyone from Oscar De la Hoya below him to Roy Jones Jr. above him. But, first, he had to get by Trinidad- a fighter that Reid’s camp felt had been somewhat exposed in his previous bout against De la Hoya. The Olympian’s people felt that Reid would be easily able to outbox the Puerto Rican slugger and, even if Trinidad were able to reach him, the naturally bigger fighter would be absorb the power.

Reid boxed well in the first half of the fight, even dropping Trinidad in the 3rd, but “Tito” eventually began to grind the kid down and, by the end of the bout, he was putting an epic beating on the Gold Medalist from Philadelphia. Reid was dropped once in the 7th and three tmes in the 11th. Trinidad ended up winning an easy unanimous decision and Reid went into a personal tailspin.

“The American Dream” came back for three insignificant wins, but was eventually KO’d by club-level fighter, Sam Hill. Trinidad may not have been the last man to defeat Reid, but he was the one who, not only beat him up physically, but took his heart and very identity away from him. The David Reid that existed after the Felix Trinidad loss was a mere shell of the young man who had dreams of gold.

Edison Miranda wants to be the Tito Trinidad to Ward’s David Reid. He would like nothing better than to resuscitateYE4 his own lagging career with a win over a highly-touted Olympian like Andre Ward. Similar to most veteran fighters in the same situation, Miranda smells fresh meat in the form of a fighter who’s had it relatively easy so far in his pro career. Miranda’s been around the world and, while he hasn’t always won, he’s always gone down slugging. This Saturday’s bout is make or break for Miranda.

Some may find fault in the Reid/Trinidad, Ward/Miranda comparison in the fact that Edison Miranda is, most definitely, no Felix Trinidad.

Well, until Andre Ward beats someone as strong and as tough as Miranda, one can also say that Andre Ward is no David Reid.

The beautiful thing is that we’ll have our answers to all pending Andre Ward questions this weekend. Hopefully, Ward isn’t expecting an easy “A”… I hear Edison Miranda is a very tough grader.

A Quarter Century of Greatness: Boxing’s 25 Best Over The Last 25 Years (Part 3)

by Paul Magno

For  Part 1 of this feature, #25-#18, click here: https://thebluecorner.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/a-quarter-century-of-greatness-boxings-25-best-over-the-last-25-years-part-1/

For Part 2 of this feature, #17-#11, click here: https://thebluecorner.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/a-quarter-century-of-greatness-boxing%e2%80%99s-25-best-over-the-last-25-years-part-2/

 holyfield

10) Evander Holyfield: 42-10-2 (27 KO), 1984-2008

Key Wins: Dwight Muhammad Qawi (2), Carlos DeLeon, Buster Douglas, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe (1-2), Michael Moorer (1-1), Ray Mercer, Mike Tyson (2), John Ruiz (1-1-1), Hasim Rahman

Key Losses: Riddick Bowe (2), Michael Moorer, Lennox Lewis, John Ruiz, Chris Byrd, James Toney, Larry Donald, Sultan Ibragimov, Nikolay Valuev

“The Real Deal’s” first mark on professional prize fighting was as the greatest Cruiserweight of all-time. As a Heavyweight, Holyfield used heart, soul and old-school toughness to beat more than his fair share of Boxing’s best big men. Even well past his prime, Holyfield never cheated the public with a sluggish performance or a half-hearted effort; Evander was a real warrior, through and through.toney3

9) James Toney: 71-6-3 (43 KO), 1989-Present

Key Wins: Michael Nunn, Reggie Johnson, Mike McCallum (2-0-1), Iran Barkley, Tim Littles, Charles Williams, Vassiliy Jirov, Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman (D)

Key Losses: Roy Jones Jr., Montell Griffin (2), Drake Thadzi, Samuel Peter (2)

Freddie Roach, Toney’s ex-trainer, recently said that an in-shape Toney had the potential to be the best fighter ever. Few who saw Toney at his best would rule out Roach’s assesment as pure fantasy. “Lights Out” outclassed fighters from 160 all the way up to 190, giving his opponents lessons in classic, old-school combat. With quick hands and a supremely tight defense, Toney’s only apparent weakness was at the dinner table where he probably ate away a few prime years of his otherwise stellar career.

8.) Manny Pacquiao: 48-3-2 (36 KO), 1995-Presentpacquiao-diaz

Key Wins: Jorge Julio, Marco Antonio Barrera (2), Juan Manuel Marqez (1-0-1), Erik Morales (2-1), Oscar Larios, Jorge Solis, David Diaz, Oscar de la Hoya

Key Losses: Medgoen Singsurat, Erik Morales

Boxing’s true “Mexicutioner,” Pacquiao has beaten a virtual Mt. Rushmore of Mexican greats in Barrera, Morales, Marquez and Larios. Over the course of his career “The Pac-man” has transformed himself from a wild rush of southpaw fury into a sharp and focused, division-jumping, pro. His most recent domination of De la Hoya proved all critics and, most experts, wrong. Boxing’s current Pound for Pound king has established himself as the force to reckon with in every division from 130 to 147.

7) Lennox Lewis: 41-2-1 (32 KO), 1989-2003 lewis1

Key Wins: Donovan Ruddock, Tony Tucker, Frank Bruno, Ray Mercer, Oliver McCall (1-1), Andrew Golota, Shannon Briggs, Evander Holyfield (1-0-1), Frans Botha, David Tua, Hasim Rahman (1-1), Mike Tyson, Vitali Klitschko

Key Losses: Oliver McCall, Hasim Rahman

Maybe the most controversial placement on this list because Lewis seems to bring up vastly different assesments of his abilities and accomplishments. What can’t be disputed about Lennox, though, was the fact that he fought everyone in the division who was willing to fight him and mosltly won convincingly. His only two losses were avenged brutally. When Boxing has time to reflect, Lewis will be remembered as the best Heavyweight since prime Larry Holmes and, maybe, the best since Ali.

6) Floyd Mayweather Jr.: 39-0 (25 KO), 1996-Present mayweather2a

Key Wins: Genaro Hernandez, Diego Corrales, Carlos Hernandez, Jesus Chavez, Jose Luis Castillo (2), DeMarcus Corley, Zab Judah, Carlos Baldomir, Oscar De la Hoya, Ricky Hatton

Key Losses: None

One of the most gifted and best-schooled fighters of this era, “Pretty Boy/Money” Mayweather lit up the 130-135 lb division, beating the best of those divisions and displaying skills and abilities on an “all-time” level. Above 140 lbs, received criticisms for not fighting the very best, but still found a way to become 140, 147 and 154 lb. champ and true, lineal champ at Welterweight. In all fairness to Mayweather, actual timelines and business issues stood in the way of the one fight he could actually be accused of skipping- against Miguel Cotto.

5) Julio Cesar Chavez: 107-6-2 (86 KO), 1980-2005 chavez

Key Wins: Roger Mayweather (2), Rocky Lockridge, Juan La Porte, Edwin Rosario, Bazooka Limon, Jose Luis Ramirez, Meldrick Taylor, Hector Camacho, Frankie Randall (2-1), Joey Gamache, Ivan Robinson

Key Losses: Frankie Randall, Oscar De la Hoya (2), Willy Wise, Kostya Tszyu, Grover Wiley

In his prime, there was nobody who better represented the classic Mexican style and the classic Mexican fight ethic than “El Gran Campeon Mexicano.” With brutal body work, a calculated temper and a cast-iron chin, Chavez bullied his way to dominance from the Super Featherweight division all the way up to Welterweight. Chavez’s toughest enemy was his own weakness for partying and the last couple of years of his career saw him be a shadow of his true self. Prime Chavez is of the “all-time” class and Top 5 of the last 25 years.

4) Oscar De la Hoya: 39-6 (30 KO), 1992-2008 oscar

Key Wins: Jorge Paez, John John Molina, Rafael Ruelas, Genaro Hernandez, Jesse Jame Leija, Julio Cesar Chavez (2), Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Pernell Whitaker, Wilfredo Rivera, Ike Quartey, Oba Carr, Javier Castillejo, Fernando Vargas, Felix Sturm, Ricardo Mayorga)

Key Losses: Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley (2), Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao

The tired, old cliche about “The Golden Boy” is that he “never won the big ones.” Well, it could also be said that only one fighter, Shane Mosley, ever really beat De la Hoya in the roughly 7 years of his his prime, from 135 to 147 lbs. Oscar not only became the face of boxing for more than a decade, but he did so with class and dignity. His resume has more big names than the Warsaw phone book- he fought the best of his generation. Were some of those names older or naturally smaller than De la Hoya? Yes, but his fame drew the best fighters to the table and, much more often than not, Oscar fought them.

3) Bernard Hopkins: 49-5-1 (32 KO), 1988-Present bernard_hopkins1

Key Wins: John David Jackson, Glen Johnson, Simon Brown, Antwun Echols (2), Keith Holmes, Felix Trinidad, Carl Daniels, William Joppy, Oscar De la Hoya, Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik

Key Losses: Roy Jones Jr., Jermain Taylor (2), Joe Calzaghe

The symbol of technical excellence and old-school toughness, Hopkins has been boxing at the highest levels for more than 15 years. “The Executioner’s” numbers can’t be argued with- He was the sport’s last unified, 4-belt champ, 20 successful defenses as a Middleweight, and at 41 years of age he embarked on a second career run that saw him become the true, lineal champ at Light Heavyweight. For the vast majority of his career, B-Hop labored under the burden of being an outsider, shunned by promoters and sanctioning bodies for his outspoken tirades against Boxing’s injustices. B-Hop has had the final laugh and is evidence to the fact that superb conditioning and hard-earned ring intelligence are a boxer’s two greatest weapons.

2) Roy Jones Jr.: 53-5 (39 KO), 1989-Present jones1

Key Wins: Bernard Hopkins, Thulani Malinga, James Toney, Mike McCallum, Montell Griffin, Virgil Hill, Reggie Johnson, Eric Harding, Clinton Woods, John Ruiz, Antonio Tarver (1-2)

Key Losses: Montell Griffin, Antonio Tarver (2), Glen Johnson, Joe Calzaghe

Jones was one of the most physically gifted fighter of all-time and, definitely, the most gifted of this era. Jones easily dominated world class fighters with an almost super human hand speed and uncanny reflexes. Literally untouchable for the better part of a decade, “RJ” ruled the world from 160 to 175 lbs and collected belts like matchbook covers, acquiring straps that most never even knew existed. The last flash in his career was his move up to heavyweight to capture the WBA title from John Ruiz. As his physical gifts diminished with age, Jones became vulnerable and beatable, but nobody can ever take away from the total excellence Jones displayed in his, 16-punch combination, pre-fight basketball-playing, prime.

1) Pernell Whitaker: 40-4-1 (17 KO), 1984-2001 whitaker

Key Wins: Roger Mayweather, Greg Haugen, Jose Luis Ramirez (1-1), Freddie Pendleton, Azumah Nelson, Jorge Paez, Rafael Pineda, Buddy McGirt (2), Julio Cesar Chavez (D), Julio Cesar Vazquez, Jake Rodriguez, Wilfredo Rivera

Key Losses: Jose Luis Ramirez, Oscar De la Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Carlos Bojorquez

“Sweet Pea” was quite frankly, the best boxer of these last 25 years. With the best defense since Willy Pep and the inherent ring smarts of a Sugar Ray Robinson, Whitaker set about a pace of utter dominance from Lightweight to Welterweight, with the two blights on his record (a loss to Ramirez and a draw to Chavez) being complete robberies. Most amazing was the fact that not only did Pernell beat the best of his class, but for a long period of time, he rarely even lost a round! Pernell Whitaker was the perfect combination of gifted athlete and learned student of the game…and he was Boxing’s Best Over The Last 25 Years.

 

Honorable Mention (in no particular order): Michael Nunn, Ricky Hatton, Terry Norris, Johnny Tapia, Humberto Gonzalez, Michael Carbajal, Nigel Benn, Iran Barkley, Virgil Hill, Chris Eubank, Naseem Hamed, Meldrick Taylor, Kostya Tszyu

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