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The Super Fights Of The Last 40 Years: Part Three

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In Part Three, I'll provide thoughts and insight on Hagler-Leonard, Tyson-Spinks, Tyson-Holyfield I, Holyfield-Tyson II, De La Hoya-Trinidad, Tyson-Lewis and De La Hoya-Mayweather.

In 1987 Sugar Ray Leonard scored the signature win of his career over undisputed middleweight champ Marvin Hagler. Shortly after that Mike Tyson took the baton from Leonard and became boxing's biggest star and draw through the early 1990's.

Oscar De La Hoya became boxing's poster child after Tyson and carried the torch and handed it off to both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

As of 2014 boxing isn't as mainstream as it was during the eras of Ali, Leonard, Tyson and De La Hoya. Today there's only one fight that could be realized that would mostly like be added to this list down the road and that's Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. It's been five years in the making and is at least three years past it's “sell-by-date.” That said, I believe it will eventually come to fruition.

Marvin Hagler vs. Sugar Ray Leonard (April 6, 1987) When it comes to anticipation, the only fight that captured my interest more than Hagler-Leonard was the first meeting between Ali-Frazier.

Leonard 33-1 (24) hadn't fought since May of 1984 when he had to get off the deck to stop Kevin Howard. At that time Hagler 62-2-2 (52) had totally cleaned out the middleweight division, and aside from fighting Leonard, he had nothing left to conquer or prove. These two had been on a collision course since they both fought for the middleweight and welterweight titles on November 30, 1979.

On that night Hagler fought middleweight champ Vito Antuofermo to a draw, despite everyone who watched it thinking he won the fight going away. An hour later Leonard stopped Wilfred Benitez in the same ring to win the WBC welterweight title. This would be Hagler's 13th defense of his middleweight title and Leonard's first fight at middleweight. Leonard agreed to let have Hagler have a larger share of the purse, but Hagler consented to let Leonard chose the gloves (10 oz Reyes), along with limiting the fights distance to 12 rounds and the ring to be 20 feet.

ODDS: On the day of the fight Hagler was between a 3/4 – 1 favorite.

Pre-fight Thoughts: I had always thought that Leonard had the style to deal with Hagler, and I didn't believe Marvin had a big enough punch to knock Leonard out. Therefore if they ever fought the fight would go the distance and favor Leonard. In his fight before meeting Leonard, Hagler won a war with John “The Beast” Mugabi, stopping him in the 11th round. Leonard was sitting ringside that night and saw Hagler eat more big shots than he ever did in any other fight. Leonard saw the time was right and issued the challenge to Hagler, fully aware that Marvin couldn't decline the money and stature that beating Ray would bring him. Sensing that Leonard knew something that nobody else did, along with believing he had the style edge, I was sure Leonard would beat Hagler if he didn't get knocked out. Since I didn't think Leonard was going to be knocked out and knew he kept training weekly during his retirement, I bet a bunch of money on Leonard to win and got 4-1 odds.

Result: A minute into the first round it was obvious that Hagler was having trouble dealing with Leonard's hand speed and movement. Leonard clearly won the first three rounds of the fight without ever being touched. Hagler won five of the next nine rounds. There were times during the bout that Leonard made Hagler look like an amateur and he even managed to win more than a few exchanges when they went at. But Hagler kept forcing the fight and after 12 rounds it was close. The officials scored it 118-110, 115-113 and 113-115 for Leonard. The AP saw it 117-112 Hagler, Harold Lederman of HBO had it 115-113 Leonard. Ring Magazine saw it 115-113 Leonard and the NYTimes, NY Post and Washington Post scored it 114-114……..I had it 115-113 Leonard. 27 years later fans are still arguing over who really won the fight and every time I've watched it since that night, it gets closer and closer.

Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks (June 27, 1988) I never considered Tyson-Spinks a Super Fight, but the know-nothings about fights and fighters media did. The only intrigue in this fight was both Tyson 34-0 (30) and Spinks 31-0 (21) were undefeated and one was a fighter (Tyson) and the other was a boxer (Spinks). That and Spinks ended Larry Holmes' seven year title reign via two close and controversial decisions. Some in the media tried to sell Tyson-Spinks as being the Ali-Frazier of the eighties, which was as Mike Tyson used to say, preposterous. Tyson was at his peak at this time and the desire for him to be part of a big fight was growing. He was clearly the best heavyweight in the world and was the biggest star in the heavyweight division since Muhammad Ali.

Spinks made his mark as being a great light heavyweight and with no one to fight in the division he moved up to heavyweight. Before facing Tyson he stopped a rusty Gerry Cooney, who only fought three times in five years after losing to Homes. This was a manufactured Super Fight because Tyson was a huge star and Spinks fit the role as the perfect foil. At that time Tyson held all the title belts, but Spinks was seen as the lineal champ, which really meant nothing at the time. The biggest reason the fight was made was to insure that there was no doubt as to who the heavyweight champion really was, even though everyone really knew.

ODDS: On the day of the fight Tyson was a 4-1 favorite.

Pre-fight Thoughts: I had no doubt in my mind that Tyson was going to stop Spinks in the first round. For starters, Spinks wasn't a legitimate heavyweight and swarmers bothered him more than any other style. At that time Tyson was the greatest swarmer in boxing and had no fear of Spinks' power – and he knew he was too strong and that Spinks wasn't going to be able to move and box him. I saw Tyson-Spinks as being a replica of Frazier-Foster eighteen years earlier. But since Mike started off faster than Joe did, I was certain he'd get rid of Michael inside the first round instead of the two that Frazier needed to nearly decapitate Foster.

Result: Spinks came out as if to say I know I have no chance to beat you if I try to run and attempt to out-box you, so let's just get it over with. Tyson dropped Spinks to his knee with a body shot a minute into the fight. He then knocked him out with the first big shot he landed after Michael got up. In total the bout lasted just 91 seconds.

Mike Tyson Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield (November 9, 1996) Tyson 45-1 (39) and Holyfield 32-3 (23) had been on a collision course since they first sparred at the Olympic trials in 1984. It was reported back then that the gym wars between Tyson and Holyfield were a toss up, with neither ever really besting the other. For most of Tyson's first title run, Holyfield, the undisputed cruiserweight champ, was the fighter he was always asked about fighting. However, it didn't become a big deal until Buster Douglas knocked out Tyson to win the title in February of 1990, then lost it eight months later when he was knocked out by Holyfield.

Tyson and Holyfield were first signed to fight in November of 1991, but Tyson hurt his rib training for the fight and the bout was canceled. Shortly afterwards Tyson was convicted of rape and went to jail for three years. In November of 1996 Holyfield was coming off his worst two showings as a pro versus Riddick Bowe and Bobby Czyz. His performance was so bad that the Nevada commission demanded that Evander be cleared medically before they'd sanction the fight. Holyfield passed their test and the fight was made.

ODDS: On the day of the fight Tyson was a 6-1 favorite.

Pre-fight Thoughts: Had the fight in 1991 been realized, I was absolute in my thinking that Holyfield had the skill, chin and toughness to be Mike's stumbling block and would stop him. However, in November of 1995, Holyfield was stopped by Riddick Bowe in their third fight and looked awful in stopping Bobby Czyz in his last fight before facing Tyson. Even though I always believed Holyfield had Tyson's number psychologically and the physical assets needed to beat him, I didn't think the relic who'd showed up as in his last two fights in November of 1995 and May of 1996 could beat the once-beaten Tyson who knocked out Bruce Seldon in the first round of his last fight. Against this version of Holyfield, I didn't think it was much more than a formality that Tyson would stop a game Holyfield at this stage of his career.

Result: Evander came right out in the first round and showed Mike he wasn't the least bit awed by him. Holyfield out thought, out fought and out muscled Tyson from the onset. In the sixth round he dropped Mike with a left hook to the chest. Tyson got up but slowly but surely the fight began slipping away from him as Holyfield was bettering him at every turn.

At the end of the 10th round Tyson was out on his feet. In the eleventh round Holyfield picked up where he left off in the tenth and started battering Tyson again, which led to referee Mitch Halpren stopping the fight less than a minute into the 11th round. At the time of the stoppage Holyfield led on all three judges scorecards 96-92, 100-93 and 96-92.

Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson II (June 28, 1997) Due to Holyfield's upset in the first fight the rematch was a natural.

It was easy to sell because Tyson 45-2 (39) claimed he took Holyfield 33-3 (24) lightly the first time due to how he looked in his previous two bouts and the public and media bought it.

This was a huge fight for Tyson being that he never got a chance to avenge his first loss as a pro to Buster Douglas. That changed because this time he knew Holyfield wasn't a walking corpse and he'd have to be at his best. Both fighters also knew that whoever won this fight would be regarded as the greater fighter in the eyes of history. Holyfield was four months shy of turning 35 and Tyson was two days short of turning 31 when they met this time. At the last moment, at the request of team Tyson, referee Mills Lane was brought in as a replacement to work the fight due to Tyson's complaints about how referee Mitch Halpren handled Holyfield's rough housing during the first fight.

ODDS: Despite losing the first fight Tyson was a 2-1 favorite in the rematch. For this fight a poll by the Las Vegas Review Journal had the media favoring Holyfield 39-23-2.

Pre-fight Thoughts: Seeing that Holyfield really got up to fight Tyson, and that he walked through his biggest punches during the first bout, I was pretty confident that unless Mike got lucky in the first two rounds, Holyfield would stop him again only it wouldn't take 11 rounds. I didn't believe Tyson could recover psychologically from the beating he endured in the first fight. Tyson knew that Holyfield could and would stand up to him and I felt that shook Tyson's confidence and Mike knew the longer the fight lasted the less likely his chances were to win it.

I thought he would really be dangerous in the first two rounds, but as long as Evander could survive the early tornado, which I felt that he would, I was positive he'd stop Mike again.

Result: Holyfield again came out strong and backed Tyson up and was handling Mike when he was at his most dangerous in a fight. Tyson complained about Holyfield head butting him, but they didn't look intentional and Lane let it go. Tyson came out of his corner for the third round without his mouth-piece, Lane made him put it in. Tyson began the round in a fury, but Holyfield was no worse for it. With forty seconds left in the round, Tyson bit Holyfield on his right ear and Holyfield jumped up and down in pain. Lane deducted two points from Tyson and after restoring order the fight resumed. Then in the next clinch Tyson bit Holyfield's other ear and was immediately disqualified. For the record Holyfield retained the title via a third round DQ victory.

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad (September 18, 1999) This was a fight for the WBC/IBF welterweight championship. It was the last Super Fight of the twentieth century and the most eagerly anticipated welterweight title bout since the first Leonard-Hearns fight 18 years earlier.

De La Hoya 31-0 (26) and Trinidad 35-0 (30) cleaned out the welterweight division and had been on a collision course since Oscar started campaigning in the division in 1997. The style clash featured a boxer-counter puncher (De La Hoya) and a hard hitting attacker (Trinidad). The bout was similar to Leonard-Hearns in terms of anticipation, hype, and purses as well as their personalities and skill. De La Hoya had the star quality of a Leonard, whose appeal and draw crossed every demographic.

Trinidad was reminiscent of Hearns in that he saw himself playing second fiddle to to De La Hoya's popularity and was somewhat bitter because he felt that he never was given his due as a fighter outside his native Puerto Rico. Also like Hearns, Trinidad felt that he had something to prove and was fueled by that. De La Hoya like Leonard, knew Trinidad would be at his best for him because everybody he fought rose to the occasion and really raised their game trying to beat him.

ODDS: On the day of the fight De La Hoya was -135 and Trinidad was -105

Pre-fight Thoughts: At the time I thought De La Hoya was the more complete and durable fighter. Trinidad went down early in fights, even though he always came back to win, and that scared me against De La Hoya. Even though Trinidad was seen as the puncher in the fight, for some reason I thought De La Hoya's ability to put his punches together better and quicker would bother Trinidad more than Felix's power would effect Oscar.

I thought Oscar could win the fight by either moving and boxing or if he was forced to, I felt he could also gain the advantage if he was forced to fight it out with Trinidad. Prior to the bout I really thought Oscar was going to beat Felix up and possibly stop him. I thought he'd control Trinidad with his jab and then go in and finish him later in the fight once he had him softened up.

Result: For the first seven of nine rounds, De La Hoya never boxed better or smarter. He had Trinidad following him all over the ring and looked as if he was stuck in the mud. It was shocking how easy De La Hoya was picking his spots and flurrying and then getting out before Trinidad could get set and fire back with authority. But starting in the ninth round he slowed down noticeably. His corner told him that he had the fight won and could only lose if he got careless and knocked out. From rounds 10 through 12 De La Hoya wouldn't engage with Trinidad and tried to run out the clock. Trinidad picked it up and forced De La Hoya all over the ring. Yes, he won the last three rounds but didn't land anything of consequence. The feeling when the bell rang to end the fight was despite losing the last three rounds, De La Hoya won. However, the decision went to Trinidad via a majority decision 115-113, 115-114 and 114-114. The AP scored it 115-113 De La Hoya and HBO's Harold Letterman had it 114-114……..I had it 115-113 De La Hoya.

Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis (June 8, 2002) Lewis 39-2-1 (30) had been hunting Tyson 49-3 (43) since he turned pro in 1989. He always said Tyson was the fighter to beat if you want to be recognized as the champ. At that time, Tyson was three weeks shy of his 36th birthday and hadn't lost since the Holyfield rematch five years earlier. He was also in and out of the ring fighting no more than twice a year versus journeymen since the last fight with Holyfield.

Lewis was fighting no less than twice a year and fought Evander Holyfield twice in 1999, getting a draw that he should've been credited for a win, and then earned a unanimous decision when they met the second time. Lewis was the fighter to beat in the heavyweight division at the time and Tyson knew that if he could beat him his career wasn't over. On the other hand Lewis had accomplished everything he set out to do as a fighter except fight and beat Mike Tyson.

ODDS: On the day of the fight Lewis was a 2-1 favorite.

Pre-fight Thoughts: Tyson hadn't looked that terrific in his previous bouts with Brian Neilson and Andrew Golota, although he stopped them both. But the Golota fight was overturned to a no contest when Tyson tested positive for marijuana in the post fight physical. But Lewis had been knocked out with one punch by Hasim Rahman two fights before facing Tyson. Lennox knocked Rahman out in the rematch but I didn't trust his chin against Tyson. I figured that Tyson was faster, hit harder and was a better boxer than Rahman, if he catches Lewis he'll put him to sleep.

So I went on record picking Tyson to beat Lewis.

Result: The first round was terrific with both fighters landing some good shots on the other, but Tyson got the better of it. From the second round on Lewis systematically took Tyson apart from the outside preventing Mike from getting inside to where he could be most effective. Lewis landed the harder and cleaner punches through the seventh round. In round eight Lewis dropped Tyson twice, the second time with a big right hand. Tyson was decisively counted out and his career as a legitimate title challenger ended then and there.

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather (May 5, 2007) This was the fight that turned Mayweather into a transcendent star.

De La Hoya represented the best known fighter of Mayweather's career and in spite of Floyd being undefeated, he lacked a signature win and payday. To add drama to the fight, Mayweather's father Floyd Sr. was training Oscar at the time. However, they had a falling out over money and Floyd Sr. didn't work with either fighter for this bout. De La Hoya brought in Freddie Roach and Mayweather, as he had been in the past, was trained by his uncle Roger. The fight was for De La Hoya's WBC junior middleweight title.

This was the fight that HBO introduced it's 24/7 four part pre fight exclusive, which helped build the interest in the bout.

De La Hoya-Mayweather also had a record for 2.4 million PPV buys with De La Hoya earning a reported 52 million dollars and Mayweather banking 25 million dollars.

ODDS: Mayweather opened as a 2-1 favorite but a ton of sentimental money poured in on Oscar and by the day of the fight De La Hoya was a 3-2 favorite.

Pre-fight Thoughts: De La Hoya prior to fighting Mayweather had one fight, against Ricardo Mayorga, after being stopped by middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins back in 2004. And in his last five bouts before taking on Mayweather, Oscar was just 3-2.

In truth Oscar hadn't looked impressive in five years since stopping Fernando Vargas in 2002. Prior to fighting De La Hoya, Mayweather looked sharp beating Zab Judah and Carlos Baldomir over the last year.

At the time of the fight De La Hoya was getting by on his name and Mayweather was starting to mature and fill out physically. I knew Floyd couldn't hurt or stop Oscar, but he wouldn't have to because he'd be a little too quick and sharp for him and it looked like a short bet for Mayweather to win a comfortable decision.

Result: The fight was actually more competitive than what most believed it would be. In the early going De La Hoya was controlling Mayweather with his jab. De La Hoya was the aggressor throughout the fight and in the early going Mayweather wasn't very effective with his counter-punching. However, Oscar started to fade as Mayweather predicted before the fight that he would. Floyd made some adjustments and starting beating Oscar to the punch.

Basically Mayweather was just a tad quicker and better defensively and that was the difference. Two judges scored four of the last five rounds for Mayweather resulting in what would be the deciding factor in a very close fight. When it was over Mayweather pulled it out via a 12-round split decision 116-112, 115-113 and 113-115. The AP scored it for Mayweather 116-112.

Ironically Mayweather's father said after the fight, “I thought Oscar won the fight on points, threw more punches and was more aggressive. My son had good defense and caught a lot of his punches, but I still thought Oscar pressed enough to win the fight.”

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.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.

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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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