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RASKIN’S RANTS: Heavy Thoughts On The Light Heavy Title

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When I worked full-time at The Ring magazine’s editorial office from September of 1997 through February of 2005, we received a phone call at least once every couple months from someone asking to speak with Bert Sugar. This despite the fact that Bert hadn’t worked for The Ring since 1983. Bert only edited the magazine for about five years, but as a talented writer, a renowned historian, a great self-promoter, and a magnetic personality, Sugar made his name is almost as synonymous with The Ring as Nat Fleischer’s.

I’m quite well aware that my name does not carry the same enduring weight as Bert’s. But somewhat similarly to Sugar, many people have assumed for the last six-plus years that I still worked full-time for The Ring. And over the past six weeks, since my working relationship with the magazine was terminated completely, I’ve received plenty of tweets and emails from people who are under the mistaken impression that I’m still connected with the magazine. (Perhaps this has a little something to do with the fact that Golden Boy Promotions still hasn’t issued a single public statement of any kind about their firing of Nigel Collins and their decision to replace him with Mike Rosenthal and Doug Fischer, the web editors that Golden Boy hired in 2008. Clearly, GBP is bursting with pride and excitement over the changes they’ve made.)

Last week, after the new guys at The Ring elected not to award their light heavyweight championship to Chad Dawson and instead continued to recognize Bernard Hopkins as the champ pending a ruling on the Hopkins camp’s appeal of Dawson’s TKO win, quite a few emails and tweets came my way. Some of those who wrote to me were aware that I have no input on The Ring’s rankings anymore, while others were unaware. For this week’s mailbag (I can’t call it a “mini-mailbag” as I usually do, and 1,500 words from now you’ll see why), here’s an email from the latter category, full of points worth addressing at length after I quickly set the reader straight about my current role:

Hi Eric (and by extension, the Ring Ratings Panel),

I’m not happy about The Ring choosing to withhold its championship belt from Chad Dawson. In past instances where a Ring belt has changed hands on a poor decision, controversy, or questionable call by officials, The Ring has made the case that they can’t play arbiter and must uphold the decision rendered by the appointed officials. I recall Nigel Collins himself writing an editorial to this effect a few months ago, though I don’t remember the exact circumstances he was referring to.

Since the ownership of the best publication in boxing changed hands, I have not noticed any kind of Golden Boy bias, and I have all the respect in the world for Bernard Hopkins (a true living legend) … but this decision is puzzling given the lengths the magazine has gone to in the past to uphold the decisions of commission officials, regardless of the opinions expressed by journalists, fans, promoters, or boxers.

I think some of the credibility of the Ring Championship policy has been chipped away by this decision.

Respectfully,
Lucas Pettenuzzo
Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Lucas,

I am no longer a contributing editor to The Ring and I am not on The Ring Ratings Panel anymore. Like you, I am just an outside observer now when it comes to ratings decisions. And as a fellow outside observer, I agree with you: This particular circumstance is troubling.

Before I go any further, let me say that it’s reasonable for people to think I have an anti-Ring bias or an agenda when I levy criticism toward them. I am still pissed at the way things went down and worried that The Ring name will be dishonored, and I do have a personal relationship with Nigel and many writers who were tossed to the curb last month. But I believe I’m capable of separating personal feelings from professional opinions. And I believe that if Nigel had made this same decision that the new editors made (not that he ever would make this decision, but please just go along with the hypothetical), I would be equally opposed to it.

Here’s the big problem with letting Hopkins keep the belt pending the result of the appeal: It sets a dangerous precedent. As we all know, results of boxing matches are appealed every week. Sometimes the appeals have merit (as this one does; I believe the result should be changed to a no-contest and I think it’s highly like that it will be). Sometimes the appeals are a waste of everyone’s time. But here’s what the new guys at The Ring have done: They’ve forced themselves to wait out every appeal of every result of a Ring title fight before recognizing the result, or else they’ll be guilty of inconsistency. And if they end up treating fighters promoted by Golden Boy differently than fighters not promoted by Golden Boy, then all of the worst fears everyone had when GBP bought The Ring will have come true. (For me, those fears came true about six weeks ago; but everyone else should be willing to wait for bias and corruption to come through on the pages of the magazine and in the rankings before concluding definitively that this venerable publication has been compromised.)

Let’s say Amir Khan vs. Zab Judah had been a Ring championship fight. Khan won by knockout, and very few people considered it controversial. But Judah filed a protest. By the precedent set last week, The Ring wouldn’t have been able to recognize Golden Boy’s own fighter, Khan, as the champion until the protest had been officially denied.

Uncomfortable as it sometimes was, Nigel followed the obvious rule when it came to Ring title fights to always recognize the official decision. When Joel Casamayor won a horrid decision over Jose Armando Santa Cruz in defense of the lightweight title, The Ring had no decision to make; it recognized Casamayor as champ because, officially, he won the fight. Anything else would have turned The Ring championship into a laughingstock.

Rankings decisions are different when there’s no Ring title at stake. It’s still a bit of a slippery slope to unofficially “overrule” the referee’s or judges’ decision and rank the “losing” fighter above the “winning” fighter, but such a move is permissable when it comes to all the gray area in ranking fighters. With championship bouts, there is no gray area. It’s black and white. The winner gets the title. The loser does not.

In the case of Hopkins vs. Dawson, The Ring’s actions should have been simple. Dawson was named the winner by TKO. Dawson is the champion. If and when the result is changed to a no-contest by the California commission, you reverse course and recognize Hopkins as the champion, wiping Dawson’s reign from the books. This is so obvious, I can hardly believe I have to spell it out. Then again, I could hardly believe it when I heard about what The Ring editors had done last week.

I shudder to say it, but The Ring is behaving much like an alphabet gang does. Incidentally, the WBC made its own rash decision last week and ignored the fight’s official result, declaring the bout a technical draw and returning the title to Hopkins. Congrats to The Ring editors on landing in such esteemed company as Jose Sulaiman. I’m not saying The Ring championship policy as drawn up by Nigel Collins is perfect—I never claimed it to be—but it was near impossible to corrupt and was built on the belief that patience is preferable to kneejerk reactions.

Best-case scenario, The Ring’s decision to ignore the official result of the Dawson-Hopkins fight came as a result of a lack of patience. Or maybe it’s a mix of that and the new editors’ egos leading them to want to exert control and put their own stamp on things quickly, trying to distance themselves from whatever was established before they came along. As Tim Starks wrote on the Queensberry Rules blog last week, “I hope this is just a bad call from new leadership still finding its legs.”

Worst-case scenario, they’re letting themselves be influenced inappropriately. I hope that’s not the reality of the situation. I hope nobody at GBP is telling them what to do. But many fans came away last week asking that question. When you make up rules on the fly, and they happen to favor Golden Boy fighters, you’d better be prepared for suspicion from the public.

Since The Ring championship policy began, and particularly since Golden Boy bought the company, I’ve tried to fend off critics who made the compelling argument, “Sure, I respect Nigel, but why should I go all in recognizing these titles when I know Nigel won’t be around forever and we can’t predict what will happen when he’s gone?” For years, I thought they were wrong and I was right, that The Ring championships were above reproach and would remain so. It turns out they were right and I was wrong, and I’m man enough to admit that. I always assumed Nigel’s successor would be someone who would be prepared by Nigel to be the steward of the magazine’s editorial department. I never really considered the possibility that there would be a hostile takeover. As a result, I feel like a fool. And to everyone I thought was wrong about the long-term issues with endorsing The Ring championship, I apologize, because it seems you’re being proven correct. (Which isn’t to say everyone couldn’t have endorsed Ring titles short-term, with an option to reevaluate later, but I digress.)

To be clear, this decision by The Ring’s new regime to recognize Hopkins as the champ for now in no ways proves there’s corruption afoot. All it proves is that the new editors are prone to making short-sighted decisions that fly in the face of how the championship policy is supposed to work. Not that any of this comes as a massive surprise; after decades of Nigel fighting against the alphabet bodies, The Ring’s website increasingly seems to serve as a public relations firm for the WBC.

In the end, California will probably overturn the result and the final outcome will be as The Ring believes it to be now: Hopkins is light heavyweight champion. But the difference between right and wrong does not come down only to the end result. It’s also about the process. And I believe all of the fans who are questioning that process have reason to be concerned.

Sorry if I was a bit long-winded on that, but it’s not a subject that can be properly addressed in just a sentence or two. Now let’s transition to subjects that can and will be addressed concisely, with the weekly Rants:

–If indeed a doubleheader featuring Marcos Maidana-Erik Morales II and Antonio DeMarco-Jorge Linares II comes off, those are two hours I will spend not caring one bit about the fact that we’re not getting a Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight. You just can’t put together a better show than those two rematches for creating new fight fans and reminding old ones why they love this sport.

–I’m not sure what’s sadder: that Roy Jones has plans to fight again, or that he takes advice from a guy whose first name is “McGee.”

–Speaking of Jones, I enjoyed his line during Saturday night’s HBO broadcast, in reference to the opponents he fought in his prime and the opponents Nonito Donaire is fighting now: “We don’t rank ’em, we spank ’em.”

–I think we can all agree that Omar Narvaez failed to establish himself as the most fearsome Omar in HBO broadcasting history.

–I find the discussion over whether Donaire should move up to 122 pounds or remain at 118 fairly pointless. I honestly don’t see anyone in either division who’s going to give “The Filipino Flash” a test right now. It’s when he climbs to featherweight that I expect things to get interesting.

–In an interview I conducted with Chuck Wepner last week, Wepner noted that the fight that earned him a shot at Muhammad Ali was a knockout over “Terrible” Terry Hinke. This begs the question: Has there ever been a boxer named Terry who didn’t have the nickname “Terrible”?

–As you may have noticed on ShoBox on Friday night, ring announcer David Diamante is using the catch phrase “The fight starts now!” If “the fight” in question is the one to convince Diamante to stop trying to force a catch phrase, then I agree, it starts now.

–I don’t think Edwin Rodriguez will ever be in the running for any Fighter of the Year awards, but I could see him being in some Fight of the Year candidates. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

–In case you missed it, last week’s episode of Ring Theory (http://ringtheory.podbean.com) was loaded with analysis of Hopkins-Dawson, DeMarco-Linares, and Ken Hershman’s move to HBO. And of course, there was the surprise guest appearance of Richard Schaefer, which can be heard in this free preview clip: http://tinyurl.com/3mc8p63. Thanks again for taking the time, Richard.

Eric Raskin can be contacted at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at http://ringtheory.podbean.com.

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face

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Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar

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Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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A Kaleidoscope of Boxers Guaranteed to Provide Action: Past and Present

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Marvelous Marvin

To set the tone for this article, one needs only to watch the way in which Thomas Hearns came out in the first round against Marvelous Marvin Hagler. He was ready to rock and roll as was his fearsome looking opponent. The ensuing unmitigated savagery was the quintessential illustration of full-tilt boogie.

For most boxing fans, the anticipation of an all-out action bout gets the chills running down spines faster than anything else. But not all, as some prefer a tactical or clinical fight that someone like Mikey Garcia can orchestrate and others –but not many—enjoy a defensive gem via a Willie Pep, Nicolino Locche, or Pernell Whitaker. A few love a genuine blood fest that a Gabe Rosado-type can provide, and who doesn’t like seeing something special as in Sugar Ray Leonard, Kostya Tszyu, Terence Crawford or Vasiliy Lomachenko?

Chill-or-be-chilled types like Bob Satterfield and Tommy Morrison were super exciting. In this connection—a certain cadre of warriors, past and present, would come out charging and stalking as soon as the bell rang. Many demonstrated a marked disdain for defense and used a non-stop, no let-up pressure that discouraged their opponents, especially in the late rounds. The anticipation from the crowd was palpable because it sensed some form of destruction was on its way. The cheering would start during the instructions and sometimes did not let up until the concussive end.

This cadre included Rocky Marciano, Tony Ayala, Vicious Victor Galindez, Jeff Fenech, Roberto Duran, and Julio Cesar Chavez (who sapped the spirit of his opponents by ripping away at their mid-section). Also, Carl “The Cat”  Thompson , chill-or-be-chilled Ricardo “Pajarito” Moreno (60-12-1 with 59 KOs),  Ron Lyle, the ultra-violent Edwin Valero, the appropriately nicknamed JulianMr KO” Letterlough, James “The Outlaw” Hughes and his mindboggling ability to snatch victory from certain defeat, Thai stalking monster Khaosai Galaxy (47-1),  the first version of George Foreman (pictured with the aforementioned Lyle), Ji-Hoon “Volcano” Kim, Ruslan  Provodnikov, Orlando “Siri” Salido, Marcos Maidana, Lenny Z, Alfredo “Perro” Angulo, Mike Alvarado, Brandon Rios, and Mickey Roman (the later four are still fighting but past their primes).

Others who presently incite the anticipation of something special include (but are not limited to) Naoya “Monster” Inoue (16-0), Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr (24-0), Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (46-4-1), Alex Saucedo (27-0), and, of course, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (38-1-1) who now has become slightly more tactical like his nemesis, Canelo Alvarez (50-1-1).

These stand out as representative.

Past

A prime Mike Tyson—and the emphasis is on prime– was the epitome of a boxer who guaranteed action. One simply would not leave his or her seat when “Iron Mike” was doing his highlight reel thing, and his blowout of Michael Spinks punctuated his standing at the top of all-action type fighters, even if the action was usually non-mutual.

Joe Frazier came out smokin’ and would not let up until either he or his opponent were done. For the most part, decisions were not in Joe’s DNA and his left hook was as malicious as a hook can be. With Joe, you just sat back and enjoyed the action. Frazier, wrote boxing historian Tracy Callis,  “was a strong, ‘swarmer’ style boxer who applied great pressure on his opponent and dealt out tremendous punishment with a relentless attack of lefts and rights; His left hook was especially stiff and quick when delivered during his bob-and-weave perpetual attack; he fought three minutes per round and never seemed to tire.”

Carlos “Escopeta” (Shotgun) Monzon (87-3-9) was a powerful and rangy Argentinean killing machine, built like an iron rod. Some said he pushed his punches. Well if he did, he pushed 87 opponents to defeat. He also became only the second man to stop former three-time world champion Emile Griffith, turning the trick in the 14th round. Blessed with great and deceptive stamina and a solid chin, he seemingly was an irresistible force. He was unbeaten over the last 81 bouts of his career, a span of 13 years, and defended his title 14 times. “One would need to write a book in order to do justice to comparing a fighter of Carlos Monzon’s calibre to his fellow all-time greats,” wrote Mike Casey.

Arturo Gatti and Irish Micky Ward were the quintessential action fighters. One is gone amidst controversy, and hopefully the other will not pay a price for his many ring wars. With these two, just count up the Fights-of-the-Year and the rest is history. Suffice it to say that Gatti and Ward will be forever linked in boxing lore.

Until his fateful fight with Nigel Benn (another all-action fighter), Gerald McClellan was absolutely, positively, a stalking monster with dynamite in his gloves. It was ferocity and fury at its highest level and it was something to behold. Sadly, his fight with Benn left him permanently disabled; his story remains a dark stain on boxing. As Ian McNeilly notes, “one man’s finest hour was the end of another man’s life as he knew it.”

Michael “The Great” Katsidis’s all-action style made thrilling fights a lock. The Kat” was willing to take three to deliver one. It was blood and guts to the last drop. Whether he too exacted a heavy price for this style remains to be seen.

Lucia Rijker, AKA “The Dutch Destroyer,” lived up to her moniker and destroyed everyone in her path. Again, it wasn’t “if,” it was “when.”

Christy Martin (49-7-3) put female boxing on the map in the ‘90s and she did it by going undefeated in 36 straight encounters, running roughshod over her opponents as evidenced by her 25 wins by stoppage during this run. She also managed to steal the show from a Mike Tyson main event in 1996 during her memorable and bloody battle with Deirdre Gogarty.

Present

Deontay Wilder, aka “The Bronze Bomber,” has a record of 40-0.  With 39 wins coming by KO—many in spectacular fashion, The “Bomber” brings with him that same sense of anticipation that Tyson did. It’s not if; it’s when and “when” can occur at any time. But unlike Tyson, there is a vulnerability that Luis Ortiz exposed that makes the excitement index go even higher.

Dillian Whyte (24-1) has seldom been in a dull affair. His vulnerability combined with his mode of attack ensures thrilling action and the possibility of a stoppage at any time. Unlike Dereck “Del-Boy” Chisora, Whyte is consistently aggressive and dangerous.

Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2) has slowed down considerably but his recent stoppage win over Lucas Matthysse offers hope that he can still conjure up his exciting whirlwind style of fast in-an-out movements that allowed him to win multiple titles over several future Hall of Fame opponents between 2005 and 2011. A rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., if rumors are true, would allow Pac Man an opportunity to accomplish a number of extraordinary things including avenging a prior defeat and ruining Mayweather’s undefeated record. Time will tell.

Though he appears to have shot his wad, a prime Antonio Margarito was the classic stalk, stun, and kill fighter. Heck, he belonged on the Discovery Channel. His two blowouts of Kermit Cintron showed the “Tijuana Tornado” at his most brutal. His come-from-behind demolition of Miguel Cotto stands out for its drama and bloodletting—and subsequent speculative controversy.

David Lemieux (39-4) always brings the heat. His fights seldom end as scheduled. With KO power in both hands and a propensity to rehydrate by 20 pounds, he is the essence of danger and attendant excitement. “With the sheer power he carries, Lemieux will always have a shot at beating any middleweight, and he is almost always involved in good action fights,” says James Slater.

Amanda Serrano (35-1-1) is the only women’s boxer to win world titles in six divisions. The “Real Deal” is unique in that she has a high KO percentage (74 percent) which is rare for female boxers. Amanda is 120 seconds of guaranteed action for each round.

                                                         **********

While Iron Mike Tyson is THE MAN, Matthew Saad Muhammad also warrants special billing as he embodied what this article is all about. Steve Farhood summed up the essence of Saad Muhammad with an observation that would be appropriate for his tombstone: “Eddie Gregory (Mustafa Muhammad) has a better jab, Marvin Johnson wields more power, James Scott does more sit ups. But, Muhammad’s heart is the size of a turnbuckle, and it anchors his title reign.”

Who did I leave out? Whose name or names would you add to this list?

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