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Avila’s Fighter of the Year: Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero; Plus Other Best Performances

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Everybody has their personal choice for Fighter of the Year, but I just can’t imagine any of those others doing what Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero did in 2012. No doubt in my mind Guerrero is the Fighter of the Year in 2012.

A number of other categories are on this list including Prizefight of the Year, Knockout of the Year, Round of the Year, Upset of the Year, Comeback of the Year, and several others, including this year’s top ring officials. We’ll start off with the Fighter of the Year.

When Guerrero was injured during training almost two years ago, he was still a 135-pound lightweight who had defeated Michael Katsidis. An injury to his shoulder forced him to cancel a fight and the world did not hear about the Gilroy, California fighter until last summer. That’s when he told Golden Boy Promotions he was ready to jump back in the ring. They offered a tune up fight, he shook his head and demanded the best fighter available. No one at lightweight or junior welterweight accepted an offer to fight Guerrero.

Instead of waiting, Guerrero jumped two weight divisions and told Golden Boy he would fight anyone in the welterweight division. Anyone. Still, there were few takers and we’re talking about going down the list of boxing’s most talented weight division. Only one fighter accepted the match and it was an undefeated welterweight named Selcuk Aydin.

Aydin had been training in Las Vegas and allegedly sparred with Floyd Mayweather. According to some sources Aydin was a handful and everyone that stepped in the ring with the heavy-handed prizefighter did not want any more. Though boxing fans did not know Aydin, the fighters, trainers and promoters knew all they needed to know. Many predicted Aydin would knock out Guerrero. Golden Boy signed Aydin to a contract.

Guerrero was offered a fight with Aydin and didn’t hesitate to accept the challenge. Despite the fact he had never fought as a welterweight, and was coming off a 15-month layoff, the Northern California southpaw eagerly accepted the fight. Aydin promised to break Guerrero’s jaw. The Ghost replied to bring it on.

After 12 tumultuous rounds on July in San Jose, Guerrero proved he could bang with the bigger 147-pounders, including the much feared Aydin. Guerrero won by unanimous decision and asked his promoters, who’s next?

Two-time world champion Andre “The Beast” Berto accepted the fight and Guerrero didn’t hesitate to sign the contract. Because Berto is managed by Al Haymon the match was shown on HBO and held at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.

Fans and experts were split down the middle on who would win between Guerrero and Berto. Sure, the Ghost had defeated Aydin, but Berto was a different fighter altogether. Most cited the former champion’s athleticism as a distinct advantage, ignoring Guerrero’s own athleticism. It was kind of comical to hear the reasons many felt Guerrero was out of his league.

From the opening bell Guerrero dominated the fight and floored Berto twice in winning a brutal 12-round welterweight fight by unanimous decision. Berto recovered from two knockdowns to put up stiff resistance but never really could hurt Guerrero. Even after the impressive performance HBO commentators were still not convinced though they were ringside and could clearly see Guerrero dominated.

Now think back and remember Guerrero began his pro career as a 122-pound junior featherweight. Could you imagine any 122-pounder today competing as a 147-pound welterweight?

Guerrero is the clear cut Fighter of the Year for 2012. It was an amazing performance when you consider he jumped two weight divisions without a tune up fight. Not even the great “Hands of Stone” Roberto Duran or Sugar Shane Mosley had jumped from lightweight to welterweight without a tune up fight or two.

Honorable mention: Brandon Rios, Danny “Swift” Garcia, Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley, Abner Mares, Andre Ward, and Nonito Donaire.

Best Prizefight of the Year – Marquez vs. Pacman IV

The fight that nobody wanted to see turned out to be the most amazing fight of the year. The number of people who say they were present at Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao’s fourth fight will grow over the years.

Best Prizefight of the Year must go to Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Manny Pacquiao IV.

Pacquiao and Marquez lit up the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas in a fight that saw both elite fighters aggressively attack each other with a fury that exceeded all previous encounters put together. It was a surprising fight that saw each hit the deck until the fight was ended by a Marquez right cross in the sixth round. Few had expected the fight to develop into this firefight. It was like concentrated napalm. Explosive is the word best describing the fight that took place on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas.

Other fights deserving mention were Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado, Mauricio Herrera vs. Mike Alvarado, Josesito Lopez vs. Victor Ortiz, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez vs. Juan Francisco Estrada, and Orlando Salido vs. Juan Manuel Lopez II.

 

Knockout of the Year – Marquez Kos Pacman

Few knockouts end with a single punch in the elite level and it doesn’t get more elite than Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao. After both suffered knockdowns in the first five rounds, none of the 16,000 fans at the arena or the millions watching on television expected Marquez to unload a devastating right hand to render Pacquiao unconscious. It was a shocking and almost frightening moment to see Pacquiao lying face down and motionless. One single right cross from Mexico’s Marquez ended the fight in the sixth round. It was the perfect punch.

Runner up for knockout of the year goes to Randall Bailey who was losing every round to Mike Jones and ended the fight with a single right uppercut to win the IBF welterweight title in the 11th round.

Round of the Year – Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado round five.

Oxnard’s Brandon Rios was already known as a slugger who never met a punch he didn’t like. Against Colorado’s Mike Alvarado, the former lightweight world champion was meeting a bigger and harder hitting adversary than he’d ever faced before. It didn’t matter, Rios and Alvarado fought each other with Rocky film star Sylvester Stallone in the audience and showed how it’s really done. Almost every round drew oohs and aahhs from the crowd but round five was vicious. Each fighter unloaded with his best and saw the other return fire with a vengeance on Oct. 13 at the Home Depot Center. It was professional violence at its best in round five. Rios ultimately won the fight and said he gets offended if he’s not hit by the other guy.

Upset of the Year – Josesito Lopez TKOs Victor Ortiz

Riverside’s Josesito Lopez was not even a welterweight when asked to fight former world champion Vicious Victor Ortiz. But the graduate of Rubidoux High accepted the offer to meet Ventura’s much heralded Ortiz on June 23 at Staples Center and shocked the boxing world by winning a technical knockout victory at the Staples Center and national television. Few people outside of the Inland Empire gave Lopez a chance, but that victory made Lopez a hero across the country and in Mexico.

Runner up has to be Palm Spring’s Timothy Bradley winning a unanimous decision against Manny Pacquiao last June 9, in Las Vegas. It wasn’t an upset to this writer but to others in the boxing world, few gave Bradley a chance.

Comeback Fighter of the Year – Randall Bailey

When Randall Bailey was matched against undefeated Mike Jones it was supposed to be a set up fight to hand the IBF title over to Jones. Bailey, a former junior welterweight world champion attempting to win another world title at 37 years old, was not expected to give the bigger and faster Jones much of a challenge. For nine rounds it looked like Jones was on his way to winning the title when a Bailey right hand suddenly floored the youngster in round 10. Then came round 11 and Jones was told to stay away from Bailey’s right hand. Caught in a corner, a short right uppercut found Jones’ chin and down he went for good. Bailey wept uncontrollably. After 12 years Bailey finally had another world title belt wrapped around his waist.

Inspirational Fighter of the Year – Paul Malignaggi

After years of hearing he couldn’t break an egg or other such nonsensical statements, Paul Malignaggi accepted a fight against Ukrainian fighter Vyacheslav Senchenko, who held the WBA welterweight world title in his home country. If you know anything about fighting in Eastern Europe, its near impossible to beat a boxer in that area without a knockout. Odds-makers must have tabbed Malignaggi a 12 to 1 underdog but that didn’t stop the Brooklyn prizefighter known as “The Magic Man” from accepting the fight. It was one of those boxing moments in time where despite the odds a fighter proves to the world he is under-rated. Malignaggi dominated the fight from the opening round until he stopped Senchenko by technical knockout to win the world title in the 9th round. The boxing world was amazed.

If you think Senchenko was over-rated, the Ukrainian former world champion recently knocked out Ricky Hatton in Manchester to stop the former British hero from a mega payday with Malignaggi. Malignaggi is this year’s Most Inspirational Fighter.

Best Prelim Fight of the Year – Derrick Murray vs. Pedro Toledo

Few fans or boxing writers knew much about Derrick Murray or Pedro Toledo. Luckily, I had seen Murray in a sparring session go toe-to-toe with a lightweight and junior welterweight prospect and keep pace with both. So when I saw that the St. Louis junior lightweight Murray known as “Whup Dat Ass” was going to fight Ecuador’s Toledo, I made sure to get to the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario early. That night on Sept. 21, the two lit up the arena with their crackerjack combinations and willingness to throw bombs at all price. First, Toledo hit the deck, then Murray hit the deck. Each smacked each other with such force and abandon that the crowd was delirious. After a mere four rounds the fight was ruled a draw. It was the right call and worth every second the fight lasted.

Boxing Ring Officials

Best refs

Referees have a thankless job and there’s more than meets the eye when inside a boxing ring. First, the referee has to make sure both fighters are safe and following the rules at all times. Second, a referee has to keep the fight flowing without interfering with the fighters. It’s not as easy as it looks. Third, all knockdowns are not easily decipherable. It’s difficult to determine if a fighter was knocked down from a blow, pushed down or has slipped. Fourth, a referee has to keep moving. If they stand in one place too long there will be plenty of fans, journalists or photographers miffed about somebody blocking their view of the fight.

Here are the best in 2012:

Pat Russell, he’s a mainstay in the world of boxing and continues to be among the top five referees in the world. The California based referee has been named in this category many countless times. Many say he’s simply the best.

Kenny Bayless has consistently proven to be on top of the action even when immersed in elite showdowns where things tend to get overblown. The Nevada official seldom fails.

Tony Weeks has improved every year that I’ve covered the sport and we’re talking about more than 20 years now. Nevada has two of the best with Weeks and Bayless.

Jack Reiss is another good example of moving up the ladder from satisfactory to exemplary status. In the past three years his performances have equaled any of the best.

Others include: Ray Corona, Tom Taylor, Raul Caiz Sr., Raul Caiz Jr., Benjy Esteves Jr., Robert Byrd, Steve Smoger, Jon Schorle, and Frank Garza.

Judges

All of these selections are subjective but on a consistent basis those selected as the best ringside judges have shown to fit that description.

A judge can ruin a prizefighter’s career with the wrong judgment. On so many occasions I’ve witnessed some horrible decisions. Nobody is perfect, but when it comes to judging a fight there must be a pattern shown by judges of consistent scoring. Some judges prefer action fighters, others defense, and still others precision and accuracy. Everyone below has shown to have a consistent method of scoring. A boxing judge does not have an easy job.

Max DeLuca of California is the best judge in my estimation. I’ve seen him score many fights and he’s proven to be the cream of the crop. No prizefighter can get a fairer shake than having DeLuca judge their fight.

Jerry Roth of Nevada has been leading the charge for many years and prefers the action fighter. If few punchers are being thrown then he favors the aggressor. He’s always fair and good when it really counts. Roth has been a judge for quite a while now. He’s one of the deans of judging.

Lisa Giampa is one of the newer judges in Nevada but I’ve never seen a bad score on her part in the past three years. There have been fights when the other two judges were off and her scores were right on the mark. She’s young and definitely one of the young budding stars of boxing judges.

Julie Lederman has become the best judge on the East Coast. For years she’s been shelling out consistently good cards and without a doubt is New York’s best judge. Her scoring of the Robert Guerrero and Andre Berto fight was exactly the same as Max DeLuca’s and Alejandro Rochin.

Other good judges: Marty Denkin, Alejandro Rochin, Fritz Warner, Pat Russell, Dave Moretti, Duane Ford, Richard Houck, Jack Reiss, Ray Corona, Raul Caiz Sr., and Barry Druxman.

Fights on television

Sat. NBCSN, 6 p.m., Tomasz Adamek (47-2) vs. Steve Cunningham (25-4).

Sat. Telefutura, 10 p.m., Abner Cotto (15-0) vs. Sergio Perez (27-13).

 

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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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