The Sweet Science, and defining the best ever
As I sit and look at the world of boxing, I cannot help but to really appreciate the era I had been so fortunate to witness. I am now in my mid 30’s, and look back, remembering boxing, as being one of the most prestigious entertaining events in the world. My love for the sweet science came around the early to mid-80’s. The Muhammad Ali era was still widely talked about, and the classic VHS tapes, still ran a fresh look into his classic fights.
Growing up, I can honestly say that the 80’s, thru the late 90’s produced some of the greatest boxers in the world. Between Sugar Ray Lenard, the Marvelous, Marvin Haggler, Roberto Duran, Thomas the Hitman Hearns, Julio Cesar Chavez, and much, much more. To this day, there has been nothing close to the excitement of turning on a live Mike Tyson fight. The man was such a feared specimen, you literally would be frightened for his opponent, and for whatever reason, notice your own heart pounding, and a have a knot in your throat, fearing what he was going to do to the poor man across the ring The classic battles from just Sugar Ray Lenard alone, we will never see anything like again.
From his defeat, then returning to the historical No MAS, 8th round victory over Roberto Duran, his two classic battles with Thomas Hearns, and of course, the battle with the Marvelous, Marvin Haggler. These were just a small glimpse of the names Sugar Ray had fought over the course of his amazing career. The fight build up and wars, from the likes of Hagler-Hearns, Mancini-Bramble, Pryor-Arguello, Hagler-Mugabi, Duran-Barkley are only a few of the great fights from the 80’s.
The 90’s gave us the Holyfield-Bowe trilogy’s, The pursuit of becoming 100 and 0, by the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez , and the quick rise, and dominance of America’s Golden boy, Oscar Delahoya. Roy Jones jr’s pure dominance, and Lennox Lewis taking the heavyweight division by storm, are just a few mentions of another great decade of boxing. The new millennium began with hopes of captivating the new generation of fans, with exciting trilogies between Gatti-Ward, Barrera-Morales, and when it was relevant, the first two Marquez-Pacquiao battles.
We have also witnessed an era of the once greats, trying to ignore father time, in continuing to search for the skills we were fortunate to see in the 90’s. Holyfield, Roy Jones, Mosley, Tyson, Chavez, Delahoya, and for a brief moment, Riddick Big Daddy Bowe, have all become an embarrassment to a sport they once dominated. Boxing today has turned into a side show, featuring the toughest battles between, not the fighters, but between the bloggers, with predictions, he said, she said drama, and continuous comparisons.
A once was sport of dominance, battles, and the hard road of blood sweat and tears, to become the number one contender, has now resulted in self-promoting, arrogance, catch weights , and choices of who to fight, making a fighters road to number one, completely irrelevant. I was only fortunate to witness the 80’s, and 90’s. The greats before my time, still to this day, bring excitement when watching the classic match-ups on replay. Era’s have produced the greatest fighters in history. Being from my generation, I will argue with anyone that a prime Mike Tyson would completely crush a prime Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali. Someone from and older generations would give his/her argument for Rocky Marciano, Jack Dempsey, prime Joe Louis, etc.
What makes these generations so great? These legends fought every legit challenge that earned the right to be worthy enough to challenge for a title. These legends I spoke of, cleaned out their respected division, and left no doubt of the greatness they left in the ring. It is truly sad to now witness continuous arguments between bloggers, knowing that a much controversial prediction is what this new era of boxing will leave us with. The best ever should be a consideration of truly earning the title. Yes, Floyd is great, but fighting, an out of retirement De La Hoya, should have been retired Mosley, Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero, a dehydrated Alvarez, and most recently, an all arms throwing, lacking skills Maidana, does not give you that title. And for sake of argument, An older, Dehydrated, coming off of a loss De La Hoya (3 wins 4 losses in last 7 fights), a recently beaten Ricky Hatton (within 3 fights), a dehydrated Cotto, a Mosley, who had a horrible losing record at the point of the fight ( 2-3-1), not to mention losing and coming to a draw in has fights leading to the Pacquiao fight, and Margarito, who was recently beaten, and suspended for a year, looked horrible returning against Garcia. These were all challenges that should have been nowhere near a title shot. And yet, this generation will argue up and down, that we are currently witnessing The Best fighters ever.
If at this moment, if boxing were to hand out such a prestigious award, more than just a record should define such an honorable handout. Otherwise, we would be putting the likes of Brian Nelson (was 62-0 when fighting Tyson in 2001), and the late Tommy the Duke Morrison, who was a great fighter, but could not get over the hump, when fighting championship opposition. Can you imagine not putting Muhammad Ali in this picture, due to having 5 losses, or even including Sugar Ray Robinson, due to losing 19 of his 198 bouts? And yet the two first names mention, would be a possibility for this award. Never losing does not define The Best Ever…. Achieving such greatness, will be the person that ends there career, knowing without a doubt, they ruled the ring. And left no doubt in anyone’s minds, that they took on, and conquered anyone and everyone that was considered a threat to the prestigious title. That being said, if at this moment such a prestigious award were to be given, in consideration to all accomplishments done in the ring, leaving no doubt in all minds, throughout the history of the sweet science, I ask all of you to find the accomplishment done by Sugar Ray Lenard, over the course of his illustrious career. With an astonishing record of 145-5, a five time Nationals champion in two weight division’s, and an Olympic gold medalist. These are just amateur accomplishments. As a professional Sugar Ray Leonard won his first title in just only 23 fights. From that moment in 1979, Sugar Ray was never involved in a non-title fight again.
Becoming a five division champion, Sugar Ray swept the Welterweight, Junior Middleweight, Middleweight, Super Middleweight, and even winning the Light Heavyweight championship of the world. These accomplishments were done within 9 years. Sugar Ray welcomed all legit challenges during the course of his entire career. Within only 40 fights, the men standing across the ring from Sugar Ray totaled a record of 1255 wins, and 181 losses (total matches include rematch records). Pete Ranzany, Wilfred Benitez, Dave Boy Green, Roberto Duran (3 times), Thomas Hearns (twice), Ayub Kalule, Marvin Hagler, Donny Lalonde, Terry Norris, and Hector Macho Camacho, were all inside the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard. All but two of them were defeated by Sugar within the decade of the 1980’s.