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BACKUS IS ALWAYS `CANASTOTA’S OWN,’ BUT HE IS STILL WITHOUT A HALL PASS

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The 27th annual International Boxing Hall of Fame induction class will be announced on Dec. 16, and again none of those to be enshrined next June will be named Billy Backus.

It is a curious case of inclusion and exclusion for a native of the picturesque central New York village of Canastota, where the IBHOF opened its doors in 1989 and welcomed its 53-member inaugural group of inductees in 1990, primarily because it is the hometown of the late, great Carmen Basilio and, to a lesser extent, his former world welterweight champion nephew, Backus.

But Basilio, who was 85 when he died on Nov. 7, 2012, is regarded as ring royalty everywhere, a tough-as-nails former welterweight and middleweight titlist who was a participant in THE RING magazine’s Fight of the Year five years running (1955 through ’59), a record that almost certainly never will be matched, much less broken. Whenever he returned to his hometown for the IBHOF induction ceremonies, Basilio, who had relocated to Rochester, N.Y., was the pugilistic equivalent of a rock star. The “Upstate Onion Farmer’s” annual appearances in Canastota were as much a cause for celebration as Elvis Presley coming back to his birthplace in Tupelo, Miss., to relive old times with the locals.

Backus, now 72, also is something of a prodigal son – since January 2006 the retired New York correctional department employee has lived in Pageland, S.C. – but his status on those occasions when he shows up in Canastota is not so much that of cherished civic treasure as of nice local boy who had his moment of glory in the ring, but not one so lasting as to assure him of immortality in the form of a plaque hanging on an IBHOF wall.

And while Backus isn’t really accepting of the situation, at least he’s come to grips with it.

“I usually come in on Wednesday (the day before the first events in the four days of official activities on Hall of Fame weekend) to see family and friends,” he said. “I come in early because I can, and before the rush (of fight fans) comes in. When the rush does come in, of course I don’t get to see my family as much. But I stay over to the next Wednesday, when I leave to go back to South Carolina.”

Backus – who almost always is introduced as a former world champion and, of course, as the nephew of Carmen Basilio – admits to being disappointed that he is not an inductee and, in fact, again wasn’t even on the ballot. There were 30 fighters on the list of “Modern” candidates (three newly eligible and 27 holdovers) for the electorate (full members of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a panel of international boxing historians) that determines which three will be part of the Class of 2016.

The IBHOF has drawn some flak in the past for having inducted fighters (Ingemar Johansson in 2002, Arturo Gatti in 2013 and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini just this year are three that come to mind) who were well-known former world champions but, critics say, failed to attain the threshold of greatness that should be the standard for entry into any sport’s Hall of Fame. Those who believe the bar for joining the club should be set very high have argued that the voting process is flawed, especially in years when there are no cinch candidates to be considered, and that it has become something of a popularity contest in any case.

With a career record of 48-20-5 that includes 22 victories inside the distance, Backus is generally considered to be someone who falls into the category of the very good, but not indisputably great. But he figures his accomplishments are the equal of some who have been inducted, or at least those who made it onto the ballot, and it stings that he has been on the outside looking in on his June visits to a place that otherwise holds nothing but fond memories for him.

“I’ve questioned it in the past,” Backus said of his failed quest to be even be considered for induction. “I’ve given it up now. The guy in charge of the Hall of Fame, (executive director) Ed Brophy, was my neighbor in Canastota, right next door. In fact, I was the one who got him interested in boxing. From what I understand, talking to sports writers from all over, my name never even comes up. I asked Ed about it and he said, `Well, we have to put this guy up first, this other guy’s going to be eligible soon.’ They keep handing me a bunch of bull.

“But if that’s the way it’s going to be, I just have to let it go. I’ve given up on it. I probably should have been inducted five or 10 years ago. But now … if it happens, it happens. My oldest son – he’s 54 – told me, `When they do induct you, Dad, I’m not even going.’ He’s upset about it. But I don’t hold any grudges. It is what it is.”

With or without the Hall’s stamp of approval, however, nobody can ever take away or diminish Backus’ signal accomplishment, which is his stunning, fourth-round stoppage – as a 9-to-1 underdog – of intimidating welterweight champion Jose Napoles on Dec. 3, 1970, in War Memorial Auditorium in Syracuse, N.Y., just 20 miles or so from the house in which Backus grew up.

Forty-five years later, Backus said his upset of Napoles, a 1990 charter inductee into the IBHOF who was born in Cuba and based in Mexico City throughout much of his career, is the most indelible memory of his boxing career. The only thing that might have made it better is if he had actually been paid for that dream shot at the title.

“Napoles got $62,000, which was a lot of money at that time,” Backus recalled. “I got nothing. The five members of the Canastota Boxing Club had guaranteed Napoles so much to bring the fight to Syracuse, there was literally no money for me after Napoles got paid. Those guys had to take up a collection – remember, this was around Christmas – to put together $800 so I could buy presents for my kids.”

How Backus even got the title shot is a story unto itself. He was a pedestrian 8-7-3 after his first 18 bouts, more than a few of which he took on short notice and against fighters more experienced than himself. It seemed he was going nowhere fast, and when he lost an eight-round decision to Rudy Richardson on March 5, 1965, his third straight defeat – and, ironically, on Backus’ 22nd birthday – he decided to call it quits.

“I was working construction at the time,” Backus said. “I’d get a call from Tony (Graziano, his manager and first trainer) and he’d say, `I got you a fight on Friday night.’ I either had to leave work early or beg out entirely for that day. But I could pick up $50 or $60, and that was my motivation for staying in it – to get some extra money for my family. I wasn’t in it to get ahead in the boxing game.”

But then Backus got laid off from his construction job, which more or less forced him to devote himself more fully to boxing. And a funny thing happened. He began to win, slowly building up his own credibility to go with the distinction of being Carmen Basilio’s nephew. Name recognition doth have its privileges.

“If I performed really well, it was always noted that I was the nephew of the great Carmen Basilio,” Backus said. “But the more I looked at it, I realized it meant more publicity for me, more things for (the media) to write about. So eventually I was, like, `OK, I’ll go along with it.’

“Even Carmen laughed about it. He’d say, `I know, I know, they have to put it in there.’ He understood. I understood. What are you gonna do?’”

After Napoles stopped Pete Toro in nine rounds in a non-title bout in Madison Square Garden on Oct. 5, 1970, three possible candidates for the WBC/WBA champion’s next bout, an optional defense against someone in the top 10, and their representatives met in New York City to meet with Napoles’ management team. It was at that meeting that one of those fighters would be selected to challenge the champ.

“It was me, Eddie Perkins (whom Napoles had outpointed over 10 rounds on Aug. 3, 1965) and I can’t remember the name of the third guy,” Backus said. “I think he was from Hawaii or California, or maybe it was Michigan or Chicago.

“As far as records go, mine at that time wasn’t really that impressive (29-10-4, 15 KOs), even though I’d beaten some good fighters. Remember, I was working construction in the early part of my career so I was taking fights on short notice, when I wasn’t in great shape. I’d only be able to go hard for five or six rounds, then sort of glide through the last four. I lost a few decisions that way. Did Napoles (whose record then was 63-4, with 43 KOs) take me lightly? Oh, without a doubt.”

But for this fight, the most important of his career, Backus would have a not-so-secret weapon: his uncle Carmen.

“After I signed for the Napoles fight, Carmen came to me – he was working at LeMoyne College, as the physical ed director – and asked, `Do you need my help?’ I said, `Yeah, if you have the time,’” Backus recalled. “So it happened that we got to work together.

“Carmen had a lot of words to say, and I listened to them because I knew what he had gone through, what he had accomplished. He gave me the best way to get things done in the ring, to be the best that I could be.

“Now, as far as styles, his was a lot different than mine, even though we were both infighters. I stood back a little bit more and looked for the jab. Carmen always wanted to dig to the body and throw as many punches as he could. He made me more of a combination puncher. I think I hit with a little more power, but he threw punches in bunches. It makes a difference.”

If Napoles expected Backus to be a pushover, he learned soon enough that was not the case. And Backus just as quickly determined that Napoles, his pristine reputation notwithstanding, was a human being, not some indestructible god of the ring.

“Napoles was the Superman of the welterweights. He scared a lot of guys, but he didn’t scare me,” Backus said. “I’d been in the ring with my share of tough guys, and, of course, I’d studied films of him. He was a very good puncher, a sharp puncher. But how was he going to react when I punched him back?

“I gave him a couple of shots to the ribs and I heard him (groan). That’s all you need to hear when you hurt somebody a little bit. I don’t think he expected to get some real punishment back. He probably thought he was the superstar and I wasn’t supposed to be a threat to him.

“When you find out the other guy hits back hard enough to hurt you, then it’s a different program, and it’s not your program.”

After a terrific, back-and-forth third round, Backus, a southpaw, stung Napoles with a right hook. A bit later in the round, another right hook opened a laceration above Napoles’ left eye that was severe enough for referee Jack Milicich to step in and stop the bout.

Basilio went over to Napoles’ corner to have a look and was startled by what he saw. “He told me, `Wow! You can see the eyeball through the cut,’” Backus said.

“But I wasn’t looking to stop him on a cut,” Backus continued. “I wanted to knock him out with a right hook, like the one that caused the cut. I wanted to put him down and out.”

After winning two non-title bouts, against Bobby Williams and Robert Gallois, Backus’ first defense was a rematch against Napoles, on June 4, 1971, at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. This time “Mantequilla” took back his title on an eighth-round technical knockout.

There would be more good nights for Backus, and some not so good. He got three more shots at the welterweight championship, losing twice to Hedgemon Lewis for the New York State Athletic Association version of the title and, in his final bout, by second-round stoppage to WBA ruler Pipino Cuevas on May 20, 1978.

Perhaps, had he had a few successes like his first meeting with Napoles, Backus would now be finding the closed door to the inner sanctum of the IBHOF at least somewhat ajar. But if he didn’t rise to the level of his uncle Carmen, at least he did enough to make the older man proud.

“Billy winning the world title is the best thing ever to happen in my life, even better than me winning the world title,” Carmen gushed after Backus had surprised Napoles.

It might not be as tangible a testimonial as his own plaque in the IBHOF would be, but for Billy Backus, earning his uncle’s seal of approval stands as an affirmation that is nearly as good.

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

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Manuel Charr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Arum says Terence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Marvelous Marvin

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

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

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

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

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

These stand out as representative.

Past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                         **********

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

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

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