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What is the difference between being heavyweight champion of the world and cruiserweight champion of the world?

Well, some would say the difference is zero.

Plus another number.

Even now, a quarter-century after his final bout as a cruiserweight, Evander Holyfield probably remains the greatest fighter ever to compete in that netherworld that exists between light heavyweight and heavyweight. On April 9, 1988, the “Real Deal” added Carlos “Sugar” DeLeon’s WBC cruiserweight championship to the WBA and IBF belts he already possessed when he stopped DeLeon in eight one-sided rounds at the Caesars Palace Sports Pavilion in Las Vegas. It was Holyfield’s fifth defense of the then-190-pound title he ascended to when he outlasted rawhide-tough WBA champ Dwight Muhammad Qawi to take a memorable 15-round split decision on July 12, 1986, in Atlanta.

Holyfield had no difficulty making 190 pounds back then. Presumably, he could have held onto his cruiser titles for damn well as long as he pleased. With the exception of Qawi, the other fighters he defeated in his relatively brief reign – Henry Tillman, Ricky Parkey, Ossie Ocasio, Qawi again and, finally, DeLeon – hadn’t posed particularly significant challenges to his reign.

But Holyfield knew his history, and, obviously, his math. His purse for fully unifying the cruiserweight title against DeLeon was $300,000. Even as he was winning that matchup with almost casual ease, it was public knowledge that undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson had signed to defend his WBC, WBA and IBF titles against former champ Michael Spinks on June 27, 1988, in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. Tyson was to receive a minimum of $15 million for that much-anticipated showdown to Spinks’ $13.5 million.

Is it any wonder Holyfield’s promotional company, Main Events, brought in Houston-based conditioning expert Tim Hallmark to bulk up their muscular yet lean king of the cruiserweights to make a run at possible eight-figure paydays? Holyfield would have had to fight and win 50 times to rake in what he received against DeLeon equal to what Tyson got for 91 seconds of demolition work against Spinks just 2½ months later.

Holyfield, of course, made the transition seamlessly, going on to win some version of the heavyweight crown four times while establishing himself as one of boxing’s all-time best big men. He stands as Exhibit A for why so many cruiserweights (and more than a few light heavyweights) have attempted to follow the same path, packing on pounds in the quest for greater glory and a heftier bank account. And it’s relatively easy to gain weight, right? Just pass the doughnuts or a six-pack of beer.

But sometimes it is more prudent to go in the opposite direction, at least temporarily, which is why smallish heavyweight contender “Fast” Eddie Chambers (36-3, 18 KOs) is slimming down to the cruiserweight limit (now 200 pounds) for his debut bout in the lower weight class, a scheduled 10-rounder against South Africa’s Thabiso Mchunu (13-1, 10 KOs) on Aug. 3 at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. The bout will be televised by the NBC Sports Network, which doesn’t appear to have the same aversion to cruiserweights that HBO, Showtime and other American broadcast outlets have shown since the division was introduced to scant enthusiasm in 1979.

Interestingly, Main Events president Kathy Duva – a publicist for the company which was then run by her late husband, Dan Duva, who oversaw Holyfield’s move up to heavyweight – not only has approved Chambers’ strategy of mixing it up with fighters more his own natural size, but she has readily endorsed it. Sometimes it is prudent for David to avoid Goliath, and for Jack to not climb that beanstalk.

“Our suggestion to Eddie was that it’s good to be able to walk around the rest of your life and say you were champion of the world,” said Duva, who now promotes Chambers along with Dan Goossen, of Goossen Tutor. “Eddie Chambers should be able to do that. He is that good. He has that kind of skill. In the cruiserweight division, he can dominate.

“Eddie still wants to win the heavyweight championship, and we’re OK with him moving back up to heavyweight eventually. But there is a better way to move him at this particular time. I’m playing chess. That’s what we do here. I need to position him, and it’s better to position him as the cruiserweight champion than as just another pretty good heavyweight, most of whom only have a goal in life to go to Germany and have somebody twice their size (read the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali) beat the living hell out of them.”

The 6-1 Chambers knows what it’s like to almost always be the little guy trying to chop down much heavier opponents who tower over him. Although he was well behind on points in his March 20, 2010, title bout in Dusseldorf, Germany, against IBF/WBO/IBO/The Ring champion Wladimir Klitscho – who was 5 inches taller and outweighed him by 34¼ pounds – he hung in there until being stopped with less than a minute remaining in the 12th and final round.

“These super heavyweights operate in a system that’s patently unfair,” Duva said. “Guys that big may be less skilled, but they’re still going to beat guys who are more talented, but are so much smaller. You never see that kind of disparity in the lighter weight classes. Look at (Floyd) Mayweather-(Canelo) Alvarez. How much of a big deal was it that Alvarez had to give up two pounds to fight at a catchweight demanded by the Mayweather camp? But when Eddie Chambers gets in the ring against some of these huge heavyweights, he’s expected to give up 30, 40, even 50 pounds – and still win.

“But guess what? With only a couple of exceptions, he still did win those kinds of fights. He went into the last round with Wladimir Klitschko and the only reason he got knocked out is because he was still trying to win, unlike most of the Klitschkos’ opponents.”

It’s hard to dispute Duva’s assertions. In his last six fights, Chambers was outweighed by an aggregate 232 pounds – an average of 38.7 pounds. The last time he fought someone lighter than himself was Oct. 3, 2008, when he came in at 219 pounds to 205 for Livan Hernandez, himself a bulked-up former cruiserweight.

Chambers, 31, a Pittsburgh native who since 2002 has been based on the other side of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, was a trim and career-low 202 pounds for his most recent ring appearance, a 12-round unanimous-decision loss to Tomasz Adamek for the vacant IBF North American heavyweight title on June 16, 2012, in Newark, N.J. But it should be noted that Chambers tore a muscle in his left biceps early on, an injury that reduced him to throwing almost nothing other than right-hand leads and is a major reason why he will have been inactive for 13½ months by the time he steps inside the ropes against Mchunu. Oh, yeah, and Adamek (a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titlist) outweighed Chambers by the obligatory 23 pounds.

“I think it’s a good idea to go down to cruiserweight, maybe dominate for a few years, then come back up to heavyweight with a stronger position as a world champion,” said Chambers, who noted he is usually at 196 or 197 pounds after a workout these days. “I really want to become a world champion, regardless of what class it’s in. When you’re a world champion, you can take satisfaction in having that distinction for as long as you live. There are great fighters who never became world champions, but there is a tendency to feel that your career is not complete until you earn that title.

“I’ve been a ranked heavyweight for a long time, but I don’t have that world championship. My detractors will say that’s why I’m moving down. That’s all right. Let them say whatever they want. Now I get to fight guys my own size for a while. When you look at the size differential with some of these really big heavyweights – I’m mainly thinking about the Klitschkos – it can change your mind a little bit about the notion of entering the ring with at least an equal chance to win.”

Perhaps Chambers’ expectation of domination at 200 pounds is overly optimistic. The reigning cruiserweight champions might not pose quite as large a hurdle to clear as the brothers Klitschko, but it would be wrong to presume that Poland’s Krzsztof Wlodarczyk (48-2-1, 34 KOs; WBC), Panama’s Guillermo Jones (39-3-2, 31 KOs; WBA), Germay-based Cuban Yoan Pablo Hernandez (27-1, 13 KOs; IBF) and Germany-based Serbian Marco Huck (36-2-1, 25 KOs; WBO) are chopped liver. But the path to the world title “Fast” Eddie so cherishes has to have fewer potholes than the one to the heavyweight crowns hoarded by the Klitschkos. Besides, Chambers is not even ranked at heavyweight by any of the world sanctioning bodies at present.

It should be noted that WBC lightweight champion Adrien Broner successfully stepped up two weight classes to challenge for Paulie Malignaggi’s WBA welterweight title in Broner’s first bout as a 147-pounder. Is it so unreasonable to believe that someone with Chambers’ credentials, should he impressively take care of Mchunu, could step to the front of the line for a shot at one of the cruiser kings?

Even Chambers, however, admits that the cruiserweight division, at least in the United States, traditionally has been regarded as the “black sheep” of boxing, which is why he even briefly

contemplated paring all the way down to the light heavyweight limit of 175. But then he thought of the debilitating effects that sort of downsizing had on Chris Byrd and Roy Jones Jr., who skipped over the cruisers altogether after having won heavyweight championships. No, trying for light heavyweight definitely would be a bridge too far.

“As much as I would love to try my hand at light heavyweight, which is one of the eight traditional divisions, and a division in which there was and is a lot of interest, I know what trying to go all that way down did to Chris and Roy,” Chambers said. “Trying to take off 20 or 25 pounds of muscle is harder, much harder, than trying to put it on. By skipping over the cruisers, those guys did damage to themselves. They never were the same.”

The cruiserweight division, for whatever reason, never gained the popularity some thought it might have gained when it was created as a bridge between light heavyweight and the larger heavyweights who were beginning to emerge in the late 1970s. It takes a real boxing history buff to recall that the WBC was the organization to sanction a cruiserweight title bout, which pitted Marvin Camel against Mate Parlov on Dec. 8, 1979. In what might be considered an omen, that fight did not even produce a champion; it ended in a draw. But Camel etched his name in the record books when he defeated Parlov in a rematch three months later. The WBA then went into the cruiserweight business in 1982, the IBF in 1983.

Alas, Camel is far less celebrated as the first cruiserweight champ than is former New York Yankee Ron Blomberg, who became the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball when he strode to the plate on April 6, 1973, for his historic first at-bat against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park.

To her credit, Duva is no Johnny-come-lately when it comes to heralding the potential glories of the cruisers. Prior to Adamek’s IBF cruiserweight defense against Bobby Gunn on July 11, 2009, Duva mounted her soap box to proclaim that there should be a more prominent place of honor for the 200-pounders.

“All these huge heavyweights are the reason the division is in the sorry state it’s in,” Duva said. “Big, lumbering guys who can’t get out of their own way are never going to make exciting fights. Let’s face it, if you’ve got a 6-5, 240-pound, athletic guy in the United States, he’s probably playing basketball or football.

“Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson … those were small heavyweights. They could have gotten down to 200 if they had to. And think about some of the great heavyweights throughout history – Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, even Joe Louis. They’d probably be cruiserweights today.”

Four years later, Duva is beating the same drum.

“If I had my way, I would rename the cruiserweight division the heavyweight division, because that’s what it really is,” she said. “I would call anything about, say, 220 the super heavyweight division, like they do in the Olympics. That’s what I would do if I were in charge of the world. Cruiserweight is a terrible name. It doesn’t sound tough enough, or something. If the cruiserweights were called

heavyweights, and bigger heavyweights were called super heavyweights, a lot more people would be interested in seeing today’s cruiserweights.

“Let’s be honest. Super heavyweights are slower. They often win by imposing their size on smaller opponents. But cruiserweight fights are fun to watch. They’re more exciting. I’m just fortunate I have this platform at NBC where we can do things that network TV executives elsewhere generally don’t want to do, which is to give these guys a chance.

“Some of the best fights I’ve ever seen were in the cruiserweight division, or involved small heavyweights or big light heavyweights who could make cruiserweight if they tried. The best fight I ever saw in person was Matthew Saad Muhammad and Yaqui Lopez, who were big light heavys. Great cruiserweight fights were Holyfield-Qawi, the first one, and Adamek-(Steve) Cunningham, also the first one. We were fortunate to promote both those fights.”

Duva’s plan is to have Chambers fight regularly on the NBC Sports Network, which will help him develop more of a following if he can get more eyeballs in the U.S. to see what he can do at a weight that presumably fits him better.

“I think the way for him to go is to dominate the cruiserweight division, and to be seen on television doing it,” she continued. “This is an American athlete, a tremendously articulate young man, nice personality, good-looking, charming as hell. He’s got everything. But he’s always portrayed as the little guy with no chance.

“But that little guy went to Germany and beat (Alexander) Dimitrenko, a guy twice his size. But nobody on this side of the Atlantic saw it, so what good did it do him? We have to change that.”

Holyfield, of course, is the most notable exception to the widely accepted rule of thumb that cruiserweight champions – think Al “Ice” Cole and Jean-Marc Mormek — don’t make much of a splash at heavyweight. So maybe Chambers’ second expedition at heavyweight, if and when he makes it, won’t be any more of a breakthrough journey than the first.

“Some cruiserweights will move up and do well, and some won’t,” she reasoned. “What the goal should always be is to provide entertainment to boxing fans. With Eddie, we think it’s best to take a step back, figure out what’s broken, and how to fix it.

“One of the things I’ve been on the warpath on for quite some time is the idea that being a cruiserweight is somehow second-rate. It’s so absurd. Somehow, some way, we have to change that kind of thinking.”


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



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



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



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.


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.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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