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Foreman Fondly Remembers “Geezers At Caesars”

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Foreman-heavybag 7dbc1

His is the most distinct dual-era career in boxing history. There was the rise of George Foreman (Part I), in which a remorseless young destroyer from Marshall, Texas, pulverized opponents without ever seeming to crack a smile. That was followed by the rise of George Foreman (Part II), a physically and spiritually transformed individual who emerged from a 10-year retirement fat and happy, but with the same gift for bludgeoning the guy in the other corner into submission.

Now, at 67 (as of Jan. 10), Foreman has the luxury of sitting back and taking stock of both phases of his remarkable boxing journey, and even that portion which preceded Part I of his professional life. Upon reflection, he sees much that is good along the way, a journey of self-discovery from which he has culled four bouts he now considers to be his personal favorites.

No, the “Rumble in the Jungle” against Muhammad Ali is not included; Big George lost that one, in a monumental upset, and few fighters are apt to list a defeat among their most cherished memories. The first touchstone event for Foreman is his gold-medal run through the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, capped by his emphatic, second-round stoppage of the Soviet Union’s Jonas Cepulis. A lot of people will forever remember the image of Foreman, his surliness temporarily put aside, parading around the ring while waving a tiny American flag.

Favorite Fight No. 2 is his two-round demolition of WBC/WBA heavyweight champion Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica, on Jan. 22, 1973, in which the 6-foot-3 Foreman – then a lean and taut 217½ pounds – knocked down the favored Smokin’ Joe six times, the last coming on a right uppercut that lifted the previously undefeated and indomitable conqueror of Ali into the air like a Cape Canaveral rocket during blastoff.

“I didn’t think I belonged there,” Foreman said, citing the stumpy left hooker from Philadelphia as the only man who ever elicited fear in him. “I was fighting Joe Frazier! Every time he threw a hook that missed, it was like a bullet whizzing by my head. I’m not ashamed to say I was afraid of him.”

But didn’t that sense of impending doom subside or even vanish once Frazier started going down?

“I never got to that point because he kept getting up,” Foreman explained. “I’m thinking, `Man, if this thing goes to the fourth round, I could be in trouble.’ I never did feel like I had it for sure. Not in that fight, not against the great Smokin’ Joe.”

Favorite Fight No. 3 came on Jan. 24, 1976, in Foreman’s first bout after being upset by Ali, a loss that severely shook the defrocked champion’s confidence in himself.  His opponent that night at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace, for the vacant NABF title, was another huge puncher, Ron Lyle, who figured he could do unto Big George what Ali had done. And Lyle seemingly was in the process of doing just that, flooring Foreman twice in what eventually was named The Ring’s Fight of the Year. Twice Foreman crumpled to the canvas and, after the second flooring, in a semi-stupor, he had an epiphany.

“When he knocked me down I was, like, `Wow, it wasn’t a fluke (getting knocked out by Ali) in Africa,’” Foreman said. “I told myself, `You got to get up, you got to get up.’ I got up, then he put me down a second time. That’s when I asked myself, `Are you a fighter or are you going to quit?’ If I hadn’t gotten up then, nobody would have ever believed in me again. I wouldn’t have believed in me.That would have been my exit from boxing, forever.”

Favorite Fight No. 4 was … ah, here’s where the surprise comes in. It’s not what most people would expect, Foreman’s one-punch knockout of WBA/IBF champ Michael Moorer, who was well ahead on points, in the 10th round of their  Nov. 5, 1994 bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas when Foreman landed the straight right heard ’round the world. “It happened! It happened!” HBO blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley excitedly repeated as Foreman ascended to a second championship reign 20 years after the first one ended.

But, to Foreman’s way of thinking, the bolt-from-the-blue conquest of Moorer  was merely the culmination of a process that had played out in his mind even before he began his long-delayed comeback. On March 9, 1987, against journeyman Steve Zouski in Sacramento, Calif., the then-38-year-old Foreman, who had eaten his way up to 320-plus pounds and had pared down only to a distinctly unsvelte 267 pounds, put away journeyman Steve Zouski in five rounds.

As grand plans go, it was hardly an auspicious launch. But then it was just what Foreman had in mind. He was on a mission, but not one on an accelerated timetable. Like the tortoise that Aesop’s fable, Big George understood that the race does not necessarily go to the swift. Sometimes slow and steady is preferable to fast and furious.

“Not everyone can plot and plan like I did. They don’t have the patience,” Foreman said of a return to the ring that, at first, drew mostly snickers and derision. “I deliberately took time. I stayed off television. I wanted to lay low until I developed my skills.”

And so it went, Foreman winning 19 fights in as many outings against mostly has-beens and never-weres, beating 18 of them inside the distance. But eventually the moment came when he had to put up or shut up, and that night arrived on Jan. 15, 1990.

George Foreman vs. Gerry Cooney. The matchup of presumably past-their-prime sluggers (Cooney, 33, had not fought since his fifth-round technical knockout loss to Michael Spinks on June 15, 1987)  officially was labeled “The Preacher and the Puncher,” the preacher, of course, being Foreman. But UPI boxing writer Dave Raffo had dubbed it “The Geezers at Caesars,” which the public quickly latched onto, and never mind that the scheduled 10-rounder actually would take place in Boardwalk Hall and not neighboring Caesars Atlantic City, which was sponsoring the event.

Although some dismissed the matchup as something akin to the circus coming to town – one Philadelphia reporter (that would be me) wrote that “America is and has always been a society of the curious, voyeuristic and gullible, which is why those modern Barnums, boxing promoters, continue to run freak shows up the flagpole to see just how many of us will salute” – both combatants understood it to very much be the real deal. Speculation already was rampant that the winner would move on to a megabucks matchup with heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.

“That fight turned everything around,” Foreman said of the second-round knockout that legitimized what, until then, had seemed an impossible dream. “If Cooney had won that fight, even on points, that would have derailed me. That was the one fight that did it. Not only did I win, but the fashion that I did it determined my destiny.”

Because he had been active, even if not against top-tier opponents, Foreman opened as a 3-to-1 favorite, which was whittled down to 9-to-5 by the opening bell when word began spreading that Cooney, whose pulverizing left hook was his weapon of choice,  was looking very sharp in training under the watchfui eye of new trainer Gil Clancy, who had helped bring out the best in such notable fighters as Emile Griffith, Ken Buchanan and Jerry Quarry. There was a rising sentiment that if Cooney, who had whacked out Ken Norton in one round, Lyle in one round and Foreman conqueror Jimmy Young in four, connected with one of his trademark hooks, George and the 253¼ pounds he was packing (36¼ more than he weighed the night he walloped Frazier) would come crashing down like an imploded building.

“When you talk about left hooks, I think Cooney – when he was really at his best – had one that would match up with anybody’s in terms of power,” said Larry Hazzard, the boss of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. “That was his punch. I imagine it still is.”

But Hazzard’s optimistic view that Foreman-Cooney was a potential clash of the titans wasn’t shared by all. Ferdie Pacheco, the NBC boxing analyst (the fight was televised via closed-circuit and pay-per-view) and former personal physician to Muhammad Ali, said that Cooney, who, depressed, had begun to drink heavily after his loss to Spinks, “has the face of a drunk trying to make a comeback” while deriding Foreman as “grossly overweight and flabby.” Trainer Tommy Gallagher, who was the chief second for WBO middleweight champion Doug DeWitt, who would yield his title to Matthew Hilton on an 11th-round stoppage on the Foreman-Cooney undercard, said the main event was “a joke, in my opinion. But I guess I can see where some people might find it interesting.”

For his part, Foreman didn’t mind the verbal jabs aimed at him about his weight. He had come in at a relatively trim 235 pounds for his March 19, 1988, bout with Tyson-sized Dwight Muhammad Qawi and, although George won via seventh-round TKO, he felt like his legendary strength had been substantially drained.

“When I fought Qawi, my body was almost like it was in the ’70s,” Foreman said. “I had concentrated so much on losing all that weight that I lost track on who I needed to be the second time around. I didn’t make that mistake again. From then on, I was always at or over 250.

“I knew what Cooney could do. He knocked out Norton. He knocked out Lyle. He was just going down the line of my generation, mowing us down one by one. I knew he had to be thinking, `OK, Foreman’s next.’

“But you know what frightened me more than anything? It was that Cooney had hired Gil Clancy to work his corner. Gil was a good boxing man who knew how to get a fighter ready to fight his best fight.”

Clany’s prefight strategy was sound enough. The 6-7 Cooney would box the old, fat guy, take him into the middle rounds where his perceived lack of stamina would come into play, and try to stay out of Foreman’s optimal punching radius until he saw openings to move in and connect with that big left hook. The plan might have worked, too, except that such an opening came too early.

When  Cooney landed that big hook in the first round, Clancy instinctively knew that his guy had seized an advantage that needed to be capitalized on right then, when Foreman was still buzzed. But, curiously, Cooney hesitated.

“He didn’t believe it (that Foreman was in trouble),” Clancy said afterward. “Inactivity does that.”

For his part, Clancy changed course and advised Cooney to go right after Foreman in Round 2. It proved to be a disastrous miscalculation.

“After the first round Cooney went back to his corner and Clancy said, `You got him! You got him!’” Foreman recalled. “I was like, `Dang, I didn’t think anybody knew that but me.’ And he did come right after me. I had a fight on my hands. I knew I had to get him before he got me.”

Foreman did exactly what he needed to do, He wobbled Cooney with a left hook of his own, which was followed by a succession of clubbing right hands that put “Gentleman Gerry” in deep trouble and drew a mandatory eight-count that would not be nearly a long-enough reprieve. Referee Joe Cortez didn’t even bother with a count when Foreman followed up with a left uppercut and overhand right; Cooney was unconscious even before he landed on the canvas, face-first.

When he was revived, Cooney said that Foreman “hit me harder than anyone I’ve ever been in the ring with.”  Foreman graciously allowed that Cooney was “the hardest left-hook puncher I faced. His hook was harder than Joe Frazier’s.”

One can only imagine what might have happened had not Tyson lost his championship to Buster Douglas three weeks later in Tokyo. The Tyson-Foreman megafight that seemingly had been put into place by George’s KO of Cooney never took place.

“Tyson truly was a tiger,” Foreman said. “But it wasn’t like I was begging to fight him. He was a short guy and, because I would be jabbing downward, I thought I’d have had a good chance of beating him. Then again, he’d been taught how to do well when he fought taller guys, so it would have been interesting. I had Tyson in mind when I boxed Qawi.  But when Tyson lost to Douglas, that basically was the end of that.”

Even missing out on a shot at Tyson, however, couldn’t dull the high Foreman experienced from beating Cooney. It was a fight he needed to win to not only maintain relevance, but to build on it.

“It was a big night. A big night,” Foreman said, savoring the memory. “And everybody knew it. It was in the air. Before the fight, people knew something momentous was going to happen, one way or the other. Fortunately, things went my way.

“Walking out of that arena in Atlantic City that night … I’ll never forget it. I wasn’t on top just yet, but I felt like I was back on top.”

Cooney never fought again, but unlike the funk he fell into following his losses to Larry Holmes and Spinks, he made peace with himself. He now co-hosts a boxing program with Randy Gordon on Sirius XM, on which Foreman has been a guest several times.

“Gerry and I are great friends now,” Foreman said. “Boxing is funny that way, isn’t it? I was even friendly with him when we fought. Gerry Cooney is a very encouraging-type person. He inspires people. There are times when he’s inspired me as well.”

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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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