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The Most Underrated and Most Overrated Boxers: Part Two of Our Survey

In this month’s survey, we asked our regular cast of noted boxing buffs to identify the fighters — active or retired, living or dead — who in their estimation were most underrated and/or most

Ted Sares

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Overrated

In this month’s survey, we asked our regular cast of noted boxing buffs to identify the fighters — active or retired, living or dead — who in their estimation were most underrated and/or most overrated. The story yielded by the survey is running in two parts with respondents listed alphabetically. Here’s Part Two.

JIM LAMPLEY- linchpin of the HBO announcing team and 2009 Hall of Fame inductee: This is another premise which is so broad and elemental that the range of possible responses is almost overwhelming. Take the underrated category: how many modern fans even know who Barney Ross was? How many are aware there is a case to be made (not by me, but by others I respect) for Harry Greb ahead of Sugar Ray Robinson as number one all-time? We could go on ad nauseum, so to make this categorical I’ll just select two ultra-recognizable relatively recent names from the most visible division.

Underrated:  This is counter-intuitive in that he got overwhelming acclaim, but I am not sure to this day enough fans and followers truly understand and appreciate what George Foreman did. To win the legitimate heavyweight crown twice, twenty years apart, as two entirely different fighters and two even more entirely different human beings, is not just one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of boxing, it is one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of competitive sports. He is not the greatest of all heavyweight kings — take your pick between Ali and Louis — but he is to me clearly the most underrated, because his awesome physicality obscures the fact he beat Michael Moorer with his mind. I can never give him too much credit for that.

Overrated: This choice actually hurts, because I regard the fighter as a dear friend, and covering him was the pedestal on which I built my boxing commentary career. But many fans think of Mike Tyson almost exclusively in images of his early career knockout string against mostly deficient opponents, and ignore what happened when he reached the point of going in against live ammunition. His best win was over a blown-up light heavyweight. His supposed colossal upset loss to Buster Douglas was actually an on-merit style loss, foreshadowed by his route-going decisions against Mitch Green, Tony Tucker, Bonecrusher Smith, and his last round knockout of Jose Ribalta. And against his Hall of Fame contemporaries Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, more style problems, zero and three, and in my view the likelihood he would never have been able to beat either one. Mike was a sensational talent but with certain limitations, and the extreme glamour of his early genesis ultimately makes him the most overrated heavyweight. Doesn’t mean I don’t love him, because I do. But only honest answers really count.

ARNE LANG – TSS editor in chief: At the risk of being branded a moron, Henry Armstrong doesn’t make my all-time Top Ten. True, he held three title belts simultaneously in an era when there were only eight weight classes. Jim Murray wrote that fighting Hammering’ Hank was like fighting a rock slide. But my goodness, he fought a lot of stiffs. During one stretch in 1939, he successfully defended his welterweight title five times in a span of 21 days. That boggles the imagination until one examines his opposition. Howard Scott, the second victim, had lost 10 of his last 11. Bobby Pacho, the fifth victim, finished his career with 70 losses. As for the most underrated, too many names jump to mind to single out just one guy.

RON LIPTON – world class boxing referee, former fighter, boxing historian, retired police officer: One of the toughest men I ever knew and sparred with many times, Jose Monon Gonzalez, came from an era where only real Lions and Tigers prowled the middleweight division. To me he was the toughest fighter to ever come out of Puerto Rico. The great boxing writer Mario Rivera also told me that. Jose was not the greatest but the roughest and most fearless fighter who fought you in the pocket all night long.  He beat Rubin Carter, Joey Archer, Florentino Fernandez, Rocky Rivero, Luis Rodriguez, Ted Wright, Cyclone Hart, Vicente Rondon, Don Fullmer and so many others. He had losses but usually went the distance trying to tear your guts out in the pocket all night long. He was like a Shawn Porter, all over you, making you fight hard or go down. He was always underrated and people who did that left the ring sadder and wiser most of the time.

Overrated? I take a pass on this one out of respect for all boxers.

PAUL MAGNO – author, writer, and boxing official in Mexico: “The Body Snatcher” Mike McCallum is vastly underrated by modern day boxing fans and even many old timers. He reached his prime at the tail end of the “Four Kings'” era and none of these guys (Leonard, Hearns, Duran, and Hagler) thought about even trying to engage the talented old-school boxer. McCallum’s phenomenal talent and immense skill were never tested against true ATG-level fighters until he was well past his prime and a division above his optimal weight– and, even then, he managed to hold his own.

As for overrated, I’ll incur the wrath of all Welsh fight fans here, but Joe Calzaghe was overrated during his career and is especially overrated now, at the cringe-worthy level, as the realities of his career fade into the past. Sure, he was a talented guy, but any honest assessment of his resume has to take note of the fact that he was, almost exclusively, hand-fed soft touches for 95 percent of his career. High-water mark wins against Mikkel Kessler, a deeply overrated Jeff Lacy, and past-their-primes Roy Jones and Bernard Hopkins over the course of a 15-year, 22-world title fight career do not fit the bill of legend-level accomplishment, And, yep, I still don’t think he really beat Hopkins.

ADEYINKA MAKINDE – boxing writer, law school lecturer, author: The most overrated boxer among the elite fighters of today I’d say is Sergey Kovalev. He is formidable with good balance and heavy-hitting power. Fight him at mid-range at your peril. But his fights with Isaac Chilemba and Andre Ward exposed his shortcomings: poor stamina, non-existent inside-fighting skills and vulnerability to body shots. (Editor’s note: this was written before Kovalev’s fight with Eleider Alvarez.)

The most underrated boxer from the past I would offer as Ezzard Charles. His losses to Jersey Joe Walcott and Rocky Marciano as well as the reluctance of the public to embrace him after the end of the Joe Louis era all served to detract from his sublime boxing skills.

MARK “SCOOP” MALINOWSKI – the “biofile” man: To pick the most underrated boxers present and past is very difficult because there are so many talents who didn’t get their just due or the big super fights they earned and deserved. The ones who spring to mind for me are prime Paul Williams and Antonio Margarito who I strongly believe would have both devoured Floyd at 147 but were denied their opportunities to become superstars. The boxing establishment was set up back then to protect Floyd, who was the installed and protected “face of boxing.” I also feel Buster Douglas is underrated by history. He boxed a masterpiece vs Tyson and could have beaten just about anyone from history that night. Today, the most underrated are Terence Crawford and Gennady Golovkin. Both are all time greats but have been avoided by their top name competition. One of the flaws of boxing today is that there are many very underrated talents out there who don’t get the TV exposure and big fights they deserve.

DAVID MARTINEZ – boxing historian and boxing site manager: Most underrated is Jerry Quarry with Randy Shields a close second. Most overrated is Chuck Davey with Sean O’Grady a close second.

LARRY MERCHANT – most underrated boxer: Riddick Bowe; most overrated ring commentator: me

ERNESTO MORALES (aka GENO FEBUS) – boxing writer and former fighter:  Wow, a tough one but I have to go with Ezzard Charles. He was only a natural middleweight beefed up to light heavy because his manager knew at 160 he’d never get a break. Then he was forced to move up again for the same reasons. Could you expect Zale’s Graziano’s, Cerdan’s, LaMotta’s ,Lesnevich’s, Mills’, Maxim’s managers risking their titles vs Charles?? Or Blinky Palermo and gang for that matter?? He would’ve had to pawn the rest of his career to get his deserved opportunities!! He wasn’t a light heavy when he moved up and was never a true heavy even in his best years in that division. Greatest LH of all time without ever winning that division’s title.

J RUSSELL PELTZ – the face of boxing in Philadelphia; 2004 IBHOF inductee: I believe Rocky Marciano was the most underrated and most overrated fighter of all time. Think about that!

FREDERICK ROMANO – author and former HBO researcher: For my money the most underrated is Ezzard Charles. Forget about his run as a heavyweight. After cutting his teeth on a host of top middleweights in his early years he went on to become an all-time great 175lb fighter. Ask Archie Moore. His race, style and disposition hindered him. Even a fading Charles was able to give Marciano his toughest title defense. As for the most overrated it is so tough to say because almost always an overrated fighter eventually becomes exposed and does not maintain that status. People are starting to talk about Floyd Mayweather Jr. as if he is up there with Ali and the like. No dice. A really talented fighter in his prime and at his best weight but he has become glaringly overrated. So, I will go with Floyd.

DANA ROSENBLATT – former world middleweight champion: Most underrated is Yaqui Lopez…….hands down!

TED SARES – TSS writer: most overrated is Cecilia Braekhus, the “First Lady of Boxing.” She is a knockout waiting to happen and Layla McCarter or Amanda Serrano   will oblige her. Most underrated is a tie between Ezzard Charles and Gene Tunney. The only loss Tunney (65-1-1) suffered was to Harry Greb in the first of their five meetings and he also beat Dempsey twice. Enough said. In my view, the super skilled Ezzard Charles fought the highest level of opposition of any fighter in boxing history.

“ICEMAN” JOHN SCULLY- former boxer, trainer, commentator; he’s done it all: In my opinion Rocky Marciano is both the most underrated and the most overrated boxer in history. His detractors have him as an easy to hit guy who beat nothing but senior citizens to achieve his status in the game. His supporters have him beating everyone in history by brutal knockout, including Godzilla and King Kong. In my opinion he is somewhere in the middle. Limited to a certain degree, of course, but he possessed one of the greatest wills of all time and he got the job done 49 times in a row, most of which were by crushing knockouts.

MIKE SILVER – author, writer, historian: How many heavyweights would get up time and again after absorbing the best shots of Joe Louis and Max Baer? My vote for most underrated goes to Primo Carnera. Despite the fixed fights and phony build-up he was a gutsy hard-working fighter who eventually absorbed enough skill and technique to defeat some decent boxers. Developed a good jab and footwork. Da Preem would be in the mix of top heavyweight contenders today and a good bet to win a belt.

The most overrated boxer was Roy Jones Jr. This terrific athlete was “great” for his time but when people began ranking him on a par with Sugar Ray Robinson (one well known authority even said he was better!), I had to draw the line. Roy’s athleticism and power dazzled but it covered up mediocre boxing skills and a glass jaw. In his prime these flaws could not be exposed by a middleweight and light heavy division that lacked depth. Roy’s innate gifts would have made him a stand out in any era but he was certainly no Sugar Ray Robinson.

ALAN SWYER- documentary filmmaker, writer, and producer of “El Boxeo”: The most underrated fighter in my estimation is Ricardo “Finito” Lopez. That he is not fully appreciated owes to two factors. First, he fought primarily as a strawweight, a division that’s often overlooked. Second, with the exception of two fights (against Alex Sanchez and Zolani Petolo), he did not box in New York, with the bulk of his matches fought in Mexico and Las Vegas. However, what more needs to be said about someone who retired undefeated as both an amateur and a pro, had 51 professional wins (38 by knockout), and tied Joe Louis and Floyd Mayweather for the most consecutive title bouts without a loss.

The most overrated boxer in my estimation is Saul Alvarez. Though clearly gifted, Canelo was anointed early on more for his red hair than for his talent. Promoted shrewdly by Golden Boy, fighting big names already on the downside of their career. Still, his fight against Alfredo Angulo featured a questionable stoppage, the scorecard for his bout against Erislandy Lara was controversial, and his effort against Floyd Mayweather was lackluster. Then came Alvarez-Golovkin, in which hype superseded the action in the ring.

GARY “DIGITAL” WILLIAMS- voice of “Boxing Along the Beltway”: My most underrated boxer is Simon Brown. He accomplished a lot in his career and I think the knockout loss to Vincent Pettway may have hurt his legacy. Brown won three world titles and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in history when he knocked out Terry Norris. I’ve always thought that Brown should be in the Hall of Fame.

My most overrated boxer actually is Mike Tyson. I give a lot of credit to Tyson for the excitement he brought to the sport. However, if you look objectively at his career, he was more successful with smaller heavyweights. When he went up against tall heavy’s like James “Bonecrusher” Smith and Lennox Lewis, he really did not perform well. Yes, he had a lot of issues outside the ring but he is not in my all-time greatest heavyweight list.

PETER WOOD – author, writer, and former fighter: The most underrated fighter is…Michael Spinks. Unfortunately, “The Spinks Jinx” is more remembered for his first-round KO loss to Mike Tyson and his unwarranted win over Larry Holmes. However, his ring achievements are too often overlooked. His ring record is almost perfect at 31-1…The Ring magazine named Spinks “the third greatest light heavyweight of all time” in 2002…He had a record of 14-1 (9 KO) in world title fights…He was 7-1 against former world titlists…He defeated Murray Sutherland (twice), Marvin Johnson, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Larry Holmes (twice).

The most overrated fighter is…Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. He’s too slow-of-foot, too juiced-up, and too protected.

Ted Sares is one of the oldest active full power lifters in the world and is currently competing on the New England circuit. A member of Ring 10, and Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, he was recently cited by Hannibal Boxing as one of three “Must-Read” boxing writers.

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Abel Sanchez Candidly Shares His Feelings About GGG and Andy Ruiz

Arne K. Lang

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The noted trainer Abel Sanchez has taken his lumps lately, but he was as congenial as ever as he conversed with this reporter during a lull in the action on last Saturday’s show at the MGM Grand Garden. Earlier in the evening, one of Sanchez’s newest proteges, Guido Vianello, had advanced his record to 4-0 with a second round stoppage of sacrificial lamb Keenan Hickmon. A six-foot-six heavyweight from Italy, Vianello was “awarded a scholarship” to Sanchez’s boxing academy by Bob Arum after signing with Arum’s Top Rank organization in November of last year.

Our talk inevitably turned to his fractured relationship with Gennady Golovkin. When we visited “The Summit,” the name of Sanchez’s training facility in Big Bear, California, in March of 2016, the fighter from Kazakhstan and his Mexican-American coach appeared to have an unbreakable bond. When in training, GGG resided in the compound that Sanchez built as a combination dormitory and training facility, a 5,200 square foot complex with a gym in the lower level. Sanchez spoke highly of GGG back then, not just as a boxer but as a person. Despite his growing fame, said Sanchez, GGG was as unspoiled as the day they first met in March of 2010.

In his first fight under Sanchez’s tutelage, Golovkin went to Panama City and won the WBA middleweight title with a 58-second blowout of Milton Nunez. He would go on to unify the title while tying Bernard Hopkins’ record for successful middleweight title defenses (20).

In April, GGG severed the relationship. This came shortly after he signed a three-year, six-fight deal with DAZN worth a reported $100 million. He subsequently hooked up with Johnathon Banks, a protégé of Emanuel Steward. Banks was in GGG’s corner not quite two weeks ago when GGG bombed out overmatched Steve Rolls.

The break-up was over money. When GGG signed his lucrative deal with DAZN, his German advisors decided that henceforth Sanchez would receive a flat rate instead of his customary percentage. “Take it or leave it,” they told Abel. He left it.

“Money (often) corrupts character and values,” said Sanchez, who was deeply wounded when GGG turned his back on him. And although we didn’t delve into it, he likely had flashbacks to 1992 when the very same thing had happened to him with Terry Norris.

Terry Norris was Abel’s first prominent fighter. He trained Terry and his older brother Orlin Norris, a budding word cruiserweight champion, for the late Joe Sayatovich at Sayatovich’s training facility on a 30-acre ranch in the high desert community of Campo, California, five miles from the Mexican border. Sayatovich owned a construction company, as did Sanchez, a second generation California home builder.

In July of 1989, Terry Norris was bombed out in two rounds by Julian Jackson in Atlantic City in a bid for Jackson’s WBA 154-pound title. But Sanchez orchestrated a rebound and Norris went on to carve out a Hall of Fame career, preceding Julian Jackson into the International Boxing Hall of Fame by 14 years.

Norris was a world champion, but yet one of the lesser known champions until winning a lopsided 12-round decision over Sugar Ray Leonard on Feb. 9, 1991, at Madison Square Garden, plunging Sugar Ray into a six-year retirement. That increased Norris’s marketability enormously and spelled the beginning of the end of the Norris-Sanchez partnership. In November of the following year, Sanchez received a letter co-signed by Sayatovich and Norris (whose signature was apparently forged) telling him that he had been dismissed.

A story in the San Diego Union-Tribune quoted Sayatovich as saying that Abel had to go because he had become “too greedy,” balking at taking a smaller percentage of Terry Norris’s purses now that the fighter had punched his way into the upper echelon of wage earners. But the break-up did not disturb Sanchez’s relationship with Orlin Norris, or with the father and official co-trainer of the Norris brothers, both of whom jumped to Abel’s defense, saying he had remained loyal to Sayatovich and that Sayatovich ought to have reciprocated that loyalty.

There’s an old saying in boxing that a trainer or manager should never become too emotionally attached to a fighter as that fighter will break his heart someday. Abel Sanchez knows the feeling.

Terry Norris, detached from Sanchez, lost his WBC diadem in his 11th title defense when he suffered a fourth round stoppage at the hands of Simon Brown in Puebla, Mexico. A win over Brown would have propelled Norris into a match with Pernell Whitaker, and had he succeeded in beating Whitaker, he would have been the runaway pick for the top spot on the pound-for-pound lists.

Abel Sanchez wasn’t surprised that Norris was upended by Simon Brown, a huge underdog. “We watch him in the gym and he’s gotten away from basic fundamentals,” he told LA Times writer Tim Kawakami. “He’s going out there winging and trying to bomb everyone out. And when you do that you’re going to get hit.”

We mean no disrespect to Johnathan Banks, a fine trainer, but we can’t help but wonder if Gennady Golovkin’s career will take the same turn.

ANDY RUIZ

Abel Sanchez first met Andy Ruiz when Ruiz, an aspiring Olympian, was 17 years old. Ruiz’s father brought Andy to Abel’s gym. When they put the boy on the scale, he weighed 307 pounds. Ten years later, Sanchez would train Ruiz for Ruiz’s match with Joseph Parker in Auckland, New Zealand. Several fights later, Ruiz bought out his contract with Top Rank, signed with Premier Boxing Champions, and acquired a new trainer, Manny Robles.

We wondered what went through Abel’s mind as Andy Ruiz was chewing up Anthony Joshua and then rapturously celebrating with his cornermen in an unforgettable scene at Madison Square Garden. Did Abel think to himself, “well, darn, if I had played my cards right, that could have been me.”

To the contrary, Sanchez thought it was wonderful. “It was good for boxing,” he said, “I’m so happy for Andy and Manny.”

Sanchez agreed with our assessment that the quick turnaround after his bout with six-foot-seven, 260-pound behemoth Alexander Dimitrenko was actually a blessing in disguise. “On paper,” said Sanchez, “he had only five weeks to prepare but it was more like 14 weeks. Andy didn’t have time to go out and party.”

“Andy would not be denied,” said Sanchez who hopes that Ruiz brings the same mindset to the rematch. “I hope that his victory over Joshua doesn’t come to be seen as a fluke,” he said, “because Andy can really fight.” He doesn’t pack the biggest punch, noted Sanchez, but he can stop an opponent in his tracks with four- and five-punch combinations, a rare attribute in a heavyweight.

As what to expect in the rematch, Sanchez said, “Andy Ruiz will have to be even better than the first time around.”

Photo credit: Tom Hogan / Hogan photos / Golden Boy Promotions

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The Gypsy King: Enjoy Him While You Can

Ted Sares

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Gypsy King

Tyson Fury —The Gypsy King– possesses a sharp Irish wit. True, he’s putting everybody on half the time, but that’s what blarney is all about. He’s a born showman and is rarely at a loss for words or afraid to throw stuff out there. Heavyweight boxing hasn’t had this type in a long time—maybe not since Ali.

Curiously, the forgoing was written before he went into the deep depths of hell brought about by depression and substance abuse. He was pretty much written off as a one-off phenom. In fact, things got so bad that David Haye once said, in response to Fury’s homophobic tweets,: “It seems @Tyson_Fury needs to ease up on his ‘Medication’ or seek an Exorcist, or he’ll get sectioned at this rate #StraightJacketRequired”

Fast Forward

But lo and behold, that was then and this is now and he has made one of the greatest comebacks in sports history (with a nod to George Foreman and Tiger Woods) showing a will and determination rarely seen anywhere. This should not be downplayed. When combined with his ability to get up from Deontay Wilder’s best shot in the final round of their fight, that determination—that will, borders on the surreal.

And he is an entirely different person. This is not the same person who told reporters they can s**k his balls. No, this Fury donated his entire purse from the Wilder fight to several UK charities that specialize in providing housing for recovering addicts and alcoholics. Said Fury, “I did give away my last purse, but I don’t do charity work for a pat on the back…I do it to help people, but I do not want praise for it, I don’t want to be called a do-gooder.”

This is not a Nikolai Valuev or a Primo Canera. The new Fury is fast, fights backwards, forwards, orthodox, southpaw, and has great upper body movement. He fights in a relaxed and fluid manner, but is a ruthless closer. This Fury enjoys what he does unlike fellow-Brit Anthony Joshua who seemed visibly uncomfortable in New York City recently. Heck, Fury is made for The Big Apple.

Anyone who is 6’9” and can switch stances and slip seven punches in a row much like Pernell Whitaker was able to do and then immediately come back with a deadly volley to initiate the beginning of a ruthless end (with Schwarz bloodied and under brutal attack, the bout was waved off), warrants the attention of every serious boxing fan.

After referee Kenny Bayless finished his count, Fury came across the ring after the poor German like something out of a horror movie as he closed the show. It bears a second and third look.

“I got a big man out of there by switching it up. He caught me with a couple but you can’t go swimming and not get wet.” said Fury (now 28-0-1). As an aside, the Gypsy King went to Schwarz’s locker room to console him after the fight.

“He needed to make a statement tonight. When he walks to that ring, he becomes someone else. All that he has in the back of his head, is Deontay Wilder. He wants that revenge. He showed strength, power, determination and that killer instinct.” — Tyson’s father John Fury.

He made that statement.

The Future

Now attention turns to his next fight with Kubrat Pulev, his IBF mandatory, his most like likely opponent. (Of course, Pulev must refrain from kissing his female interviewers.) Such a matchup would be more competitive and even risky. As Caryn Tate of Boxing.com says, “The sooner Fury and the rest of the heavyweights at the top of the division fight each other, the better. The plethora of tune-ups in this sport have got to stop.”

In a sport/business that overwhelms us with nonstop legal bickering and suspected/real use of PEDs, this affable and candid giant is a breath of badly needed fresh air.

“I was in the car on the way with my wife and I said ‘I think we’ve made it Paris’. She said why and I said ‘We’re headlining in Vegas! This is it!’” — Tyson Fury

Later, he said, I came here to have fun and enjoy myself. I don’t take it too seriously. I thought I put on a good show and the fans got what they paid for.”

Ted Sares is a member of Ring 8, a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Grand Master class.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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Three Punch Combo: Looking Ahead to the 2020 IBHOF Class and More

Matt Andrzejewski

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THREE PUNCH COMBO — Last weekend, the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY, held its annual induction ceremony. Julian Jackson, Donald Curry and James “Buddy” McGirt were enshrined in the modern category. With the 2019 induction weekend now complete, it is now time to look forward to the 2020 class in the modern category.

For those not familiar with the process, each year three boxers are elected in the modern category. No more and no less. The modern category is comprised of fighters who had their last bout no earlier than 1989 and have been retired from the sport for five years. So to be considered for the 2020 ballot, the boxer’s last fight would need to be no later than 2014.

Last year’s class was dominated by holdovers who weren’t elected to the IBHOF the first time they were eligible and appeared on the ballot multiple times before finally getting inducted. We also saw something similar in 2016. But for the class of 2020, we have a strong list of first time eligible candidates and given the current voting criteria it is probable that the class of 2020 will be comprised of fighters from this list.

The five notable first time eligible candidates are Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KO’s), Sergio Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KO’s), Carl Froch (33-2, 24 KO’s), Jorge Arce (64-8-2, 49 KO’s) and Marcos Maidana (35-5, 31 KO’s).

Of the five, I think Arce and Maidana can safely be eliminated from serious consideration for the class of 2020. They don’t have near the resumes of the other three.

Juan Manuel Marquez (pictured) would seem to be a lock. He is a former multi-division champion who fought in some of the most prominent fights of his era and holds wins against some of the best fighters of his generation. This includes wins over Hall of Famer Marco Antonio Barrera and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao.

Sergio Martinez is also a lock. The Argentine may have been a late bloomer but he had a dominant four-year middleweight title reign after defeating Kelly Pavlik in 2010 for the title. During this reign he scored an emphatic second round knockout of Paul Williams which avenged a previous loss and won a decisive 12-round decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

I sense there will be some debate regarding Froch but I think he will get the nod his first time around. He is a former 168-pound champion and has an incredibly deep resume that includes wins against many of the best in the division of his era. Of his two losses, one was avenged to Mikkel Kessler and the other was to future first ballot Hall of Famer Andre Ward. The resume just speaks for itself and should be more than enough to earn Froch enshrinement on his first go-around.

Of the holdovers, the two most likely to push Froch for the third and final spot are Rafael Marquez (41-9, 37 KO’s) and Vinny Paz (50-10, 30 KO’s). Marquez garnered a lot of support in his first year of eligibility last year and a lot were surprised when he did not make the final cut. With his brother likely getting inducted this coming year, there could be a push to put the brothers in together. As for Paz, he also picked up some steam last year and seemed to sway more voters to his side.

The Case For Yaqui Lopez

Every year I like to touch upon some fighters who I feel have gone overlooked by IBHOF voters. In past years for example, I have made cases for both Kevin Kelley and Junior Jones. This year, I wanted to go back a little further to a different era and point out a fighter who I think deserves serious consideration in Yaqui Lopez (61-15, 39 KO’s).

Lopez never won a world title and I am quickly reminded of that whenever I bring up his candidacy. He fought in an era that not only did not have an abundance of title belts but also featured some of the all-time greats of the light heavyweight division. Lopez lost two close decisions in world title bids to Hall of Famer Victor Galindez. Lopez also was competitive on two occasions in challenging Matthew Saad Muhammad for his light heavyweight title. Their second fight in 1980 was the Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. And Lopez also gave future Hall of Famer Michael Spinks a test before being stopped in the seventh round.

The losses were competitive to these all-time greats. In any other era Lopez would have been a world champion. But there are yet many good wins on his resume, most notably a sixth round stoppage of Mike Rossman in March of 1978. Six months later, Rossman would knock out the aforementioned Galindez to become the light heavyweight champion.

There is another side to the argument for Lopez. Some people hate when I mention this but entertainment matters when considering candidates qualifications. The floodgates were opened by voters in this regard with the elections of Arturo Gatti and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and there is no going back. Lopez was not only a very accomplished fighter but one of the most exciting fighters of his era, he was involved in many memorable wars. Add this fact to his resume and Lopez more than meets all the criteria to be inducted into the IBHOF.

Under The Radar Fight

 ShoBox returns on Friday from the WinnaVegas Casino & Resort in Sloan, Iowa with a tripleheader featuring six fighters with a combined record of 91-1. Though I am very interested in all the fights, I am especially interested in the main event, a 154-pound contest between fast rising prospect Sebastian Fundora (12-0, 8 KO’s) and Hector Manuel Zepeda (17-0, 4 KO’s).

Fundora stands 6’7” tall and is appropriately nicknamed “The Towering Inferno.” For a man who stands that tall, he is incredibly athletic and fluid inside the ring. Working from a southpaw stance, Fundora likes to use his height to pepper his opponents from the outside with a sharp right jab. He will work very fluid, heavy handed combinations behind that jab and makes his opposition pay a heavy toll when they attempt to close the distance. And if opponents do manage to get inside, Fundora has shown himself to be a very accomplished fighter at close range.

Defensively, Fundora has some things to clean up. He tends to get involved in exchanges and when he does so will stand straight up with his chin exposed. He’s been clipped clean on a few occasions and that will need to be corrected as he moves up in caliber of competition.

There is not a lot of video available on Zepeda but from what I have seen he is a technically astute fighter. He is a boxer puncher by trade who will use frequent lateral movement working behind the left jab from the orthodox stance. Zepeda likes to be first instead of looking for counters and from the fights I have seen has shown to be a volume puncher. As the record indicates, however, he is not a big puncher.

If Zepeda fights the way that I have seen on video, I think we are going to get a fast paced, good action fight. Fundora is clearly the “A” side here and is supposed to win. But make no mistake, Zepeda can fight and this is a step up in class for Fundora.

This is a classic ShoBox fight in which the “A” side could get pushed and I am very interested to see this one on Friday.

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