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Will There Be a Changing of the Guard?

13,964 fans were at Barclays Center on April 21 to witness what might someday be looked upon as a step toward boxing’s changing of the guard.

Three fights – Gervonta Davis vs. Jesus Cuellar, Jermall Charlo vs. Hugo Centeno

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13,964 fans were at Barclays Center on April 21 to witness what might someday be looked upon as a step toward boxing’s changing of the guard.

Three fights – Gervonta Davis vs. Jesus Cuellar, Jermall Charlo vs. Hugo Centeno, and Adrien Broner vs. Jesse Vargas – headlined the show.

Davis age 23, has a wealth of talent. He briefly held the IBF 130-pound belt before surrendering it on the scales just prior to his last outing. Cuellar, a 7-to-1 underdog whose previous losses were by decision to Oscar Escandon and Abner Mares, was moving up in weight from 126 pounds.

Gervonta (pictured) has quick hands and good power. He started fast on Saturday night, dropping Cuellar with a straight left to the body in round two and a brutal body shot in round three. Then he pummeled Jesus some more while referee Benjy Esteves waited for an unnecessary third knockdown before stopping the slaughter at 2:45 of the third stanza. The fight had the feel of target practice with a Magnum .357.

Jermall Charlo won an IBF 154-pound belt with a 2015 stoppage of 42-year-old Cornelius Bundradge. He relinquished his title last year to campaign at 160 pounds but fought only once in 2017 (a victory over Jorge Sebastian Heiland, who came into the bout with a damaged left knee).

Like the Klitschko brothers in the early years of their career, Jermall and his twin brother, Jermell, have suffered in terms of their marketability because there are two of them. Jermall’s response has been to say, “Twin power is better. If you don’t like the Charlos, stay out of our lane and keep the hate down.”

Centeno is the sort of opponent one expects to find as the non-threatening adversary for a house fighter doing battle for a WBC “interim” middleweight championship.

In the build-up to the fight, Charlo expended as much energy on his fellow headliners as on Centeno.

In a March 24 Instagram video, Jermall declared, “Y’all mother******* coming to see me fight. Ain’t nobody coming to see Adrien Broner fight. I didn’t want to be on that f******. You think I wanted to be on that f****** card? No. I’m being real. I didn’t want to be on Adrien Broner’s card again. Every time I’m on his f****** card, he lose. Then its Hispanic vs. Black, and I fight a Hispanic. I still do what I gotta do, but this motherf***** don’t do what he gotta do. The main event look like sh**. The event don’t get no recognition. No, I don’t want to be on f****** Adrien Broner’s card. I’m sorry, I’m just speaking facts.”

Then Charlo turned his attention to Davis, proclaiming, “Tank, that little nigga ain’t fought nobody. He with Mayweather and ain’t fought nobody. This little fat Tank mother******, he think he Mayweather. I read the tweets and the comments [from Gervonta]. He’s mad because they moved me to the card. I’m sorry, nigga, that my opponent got a broken rib. I gotta fight him on your card, so that means your TV time is cut short. Stop playing with me, nigga, because every time I see you, you ain’t really about that sh**, you dumb slow stuttering motherf*****.”

Charlo was a 20-to-1 favorite over Centeno. The fight didn’t last long. Round one saw Jermall stalking his man while Centano stayed as far away as possible and held when Charlo got in close. Then, forty seconds into round two, Jermall landed a punishing right hand as the opening salvo in a four-punch combination that ended with a vicious left hook to the jaw that dropped Hugo for the count and then some. It’s unclear why referee Steve Willis bothered to count since Centano had zero chance of getting up.

That set the stage for Broner-Vargas.

Broner has prodigious talent that has been undermined by a notable lack of discipline in and out of the ring. He has stepped up in class to fight a world-class opponent on three occasions. Each time (against Marcos Maidana, Shawn Porter, and Mikey Garcia), he lost.

It has been said that trouble follows Broner wherever he goes. An equally valid hypothesis might be that Broner follows trouble.

TMZ reports that Broner has fathered seven children with six different women which, to Adrien’s way of thinking, might evince a commitment of sorts to one of the women.

In addition to a string of juvenile arrests, Broner has been charged with robbery, aggravated robbery, felonious assault, battery, illegal possession of a weapon, domestic violence, and intimidation of a witness. On February 13 of this year, he added to his rap sheet with a charge of misdemeanor sexual battery after a woman accused him of groping her in an Atlanta shopping mall. The woman, Kaila Crews, is now suing him in a civil lawsuit for sexual battery.

Originally, Broner was slated to fight Omar Figueroa at Barclays Center to determine a mandatory challenger for the WBC 140-pound title. But Figueroa fell out after being arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated, Vargas was substituted, and the bout was changed to a catchweight of 144 pounds.

At the final pre-fight press conference on April 19, Broner called Vargas a “puto” (Spanish for whore) and Leonard Ellerbe (CEO of Mayweather Promotions, which was co-promoting the fight card) a “bitch-ass nigger.” But by then, it was clear that Adrien’s insults might lead to consequences more serious than discord within the promotion.

More specifically, Broner and Tekashi69 were engaged in a social media dispute that began when the rapper called Adrien a “clown” on Instagram. That led Broner to respond, “Ey 6ix9ine, don’t be commenting no f*** sh*** under my pictures, boy. Talkin’ bout clown, nigga. I’m about to pull up on you, nigga. I ain’t one of these rap niggas you be trollin’ with, nigga, quit playin’ with me, nigga.”

Tekashi69 then countered by calling Broner a “pussy” before suggesting in solid capital letters, “CHECK IN WHEN YOU GET TO BROOKLYN TOO. KING OF MY CITY.”

Thereafter, an April 18 open media workout was canceled as a security precaution and the final pre-fight press conference (previously scheduled for the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan) was moved to Barclays Center, where there was heightened security. It was also decreed that the Friday weigh-in would be closed to the public. At the weigh-in, Broner floated the idea of asking Tekashi69 to walk him to the ring on fight night. But that was quickly vetoed by the promotion.

When fight night came, there was a heavy police presence at Barclays Center: uniformed cops, plainclothes cops, gang units. Even then, a temporary lockdown was necessary when a gun was fired in the building.

Details are vague at the present time. But it appears as though there has been bad blood between Tekaski69 and Brooklyn rapper Casanova. On fight night, the two men and their associates confronted each other in a hallway near a VIP lounge in Barclays Center. A shot was fired and the perpetrator ran from the building. TMZ later reported that a .32 caliber shell casing was recovered by the police. It’s unclear how a man with a gun was able to evade what were supposed to be heightened security precautions.

As for the fight; Broner had been listed as an 11-to-10 favorite over Vargas, but the odds flipped during fight week. Adrien was the more physically-gifted fighter. However, as always, there were questions as to where his head was at. Jessie had lost by decision decision to Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao. But he was a credible opponent with a ninth-round knockout of Sadam Ali to his credit.

After a cautious first round with little aggression from either man, Vargas began throwing with both hands in the second stanza, mixing punches well to the head and body. The action continued in round three with Broner stepping up his own effort and going low often enough that it didn’t seem accidental.

At the midway point, Vargas had a substantial lead on the judges’ scorecards but appeared to be tiring. Then Broner began landing sharp effective punches. By round nine, Adrien was unloading and it seemed clear that he could hurt Jessie more than Jessie could hurt him.

But Broner, for all his talk, is a safety-first fighter. He’s more effective when fighting aggressively but rarely wants to take that risk. Despite being in control of the fight in the late rounds, he never put his foot to the pedal in an effort to knock Vargas out. Then, in an act of foolishness, Adrien took round twelve off.

That cost Broner the fight. Judge Julie Lederman gave the nod to Adrien by a 115-113 margin. But she was overruled by Eric Marlinski and Kevin Morgan, each of whom scored the bout a 114-114 draw.

In the ring after the fight, Broner confronted Vargas while Jessie was being interviewed by Showtime’s Jim Gray. Their exchange unfolded as follows:

Broner: Hey man, f*** all that. Let me see the mic. I beat your ass. Look at his face. It looks like I beat him with what they beat Martin Luther King with [it’s likely that Broner meant Rodney King].

Vargas: I’m gonna be honest. I’m an honest man. We went at it for twelve rounds.

Broner: We didn’t go at it. That’s gay.

Vargas: We can do it again.

Broner: I beat your ass like you stole something. I beat your ass like you were suspended from school. I beat your ass like you stole my bicycle, nigga.

Vargas: You can get some more if you want.

Broner: You’re bruised up.

Vargas: I’m ready to fight right now, fool.

Broner: C’mon man. You need peroxide and alcohol.

Vargas: You need to settle down.

Broner then turned his attention to Gray and asked, “Was you watching? You got cataracts? Are your eyes all f***** up? Did you see?”

Broner is more bark than bite. The expectation is that he will continue to fall short of what he might have been as a fighter.

Meanwhile, Gervonta Davis and Jermall Charlo attack like pitbulls. The open issue on each man’s resume is that neither has fought a world-class opponent. But that could change.

Davis says he wants to fight Vasyl Lomachenko next. Whether he really wants to is probably irrelevant because Top Rank (Lomachenko’s promoter) is likely to say that Gervonta isn’t a big enough draw yet and the fight needs more time to “marinate.” Davis versus Mikey Garcia would also be an attractive offering.

Charlo says he wants to fight Gennady Golovkin and seems to mean it. But after Golovkin disposes of Vanes Martirosyan on May 5, he’d like to pursue fights against Canelo Alvarez, Billy Joe Saunders, Danny Jacobs, and Sergiy Derevyanchenko before going anywhere near Charlo.

That will create an interesting scenario because Jermall is now the WBC’s “interim” middleweight champion and Golovkin’s next “mandatory” challenger. Look for the WBC to jump through hoops in an effort to maximize sanctioning fees in this situation.

*     *     *

Barclays Center was teeming with law enforcement personnel on Saturday night. But that didn’t keep a robbery from taking place. A young woman named Iranda Paola Torres was robbed. Thousands of New Yorkers witnessed the event.

Torres, like many Mexicans, journeyed to the United States in search of a better way of life. She was here to fight Heather Hardy, the Brooklyn native whose 21-0 ring record doesn’t reflect the times that opponents have been robbed in the past.

Torres entered the ring with a 12-2-1 ledger, but those numbers were deceiving. Her last six wins were against women who have a composite ring record of 3 wins and 29 losses.

Thus, Iranda was considered a “safe” opponent for Hardy. But the way Heather has been fighting lately, no opponent is safe. Hardy looked out of shape. She tired early, got hit a lot, and ran for most of the night. When the judges’ scores were announced (79-73, 78-74, and 78-74), they seemed to be on the mark. Then Heather was proclaimed as the winner.

The pro-Hardy crowd vociferously booed the decision, which brought to mind an email that I received from a reader years ago after an egregious decision went in favor of a Top Rank fighter.

“Did Bob Arum supply girls for the judges,” the reader inquired, “or did he perform the favors himself?”

Hardy bears responsibility for her poor performance. But the atrocious scoring isn’t her fault. The blame for that falls squarely on the New York State Athletic Commission.

The NYSAC needs to train a new generation of judges and other commission personnel. But it’s so mired in petty politics that incompetence and worse have become the accepted standard.

*     *     *

Too often, undercard fights fail to give fans their money’s worth. But the opening bout on Saturday night’s card at Barclays Center took things to a new level. Heavyweights George Arias and Tyrell Wright fought a sluggish eight rounds with Arias winning a close decision. However, the fight started before the arena was open to the public. That meant anyone who bought a ticket in the hope of seeing Arias vs. Wright couldn’t see the fight. So much for respecting the ticket-buying public.

*     *     *

A word of remembrance regarding Bill Nack, who died on April 13 at age 77 after a battle with lung cancer.

Nack is best known for his literary output during a 23-year sojourn at Sports Illustrated and a 1975 book that remains the definitive study of Secretariat, horse racing’s greatest champion.

The horses were Nack’s first love. But he was a talented wordsmith who could write well about anything. He didn’t turn his attention to boxing often. But when he did, it was worth reading.

Among the articles Nack wrote about the sweet science (collected in a 2003 book entitled My Turf) were a portrait of “Young Cassius” that celebrated Muhammad Ali’s fiftieth birthday; a ground-breaking exploration of the dark side of Rocky Marciano; a study of the lasting enmity that Joe Frazier felt for Ali (written on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Ali-Frazier I); an insightful look back at the Dempsey-Tunney “long count” fight; and a piece that humanized Sonny Liston.

Nack’s work was always well-researched and beautifully written. He was a good writer and a nice man.

Photo credit: Janer Bigio / Mayweather Promotions

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book – There Will Always Be Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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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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