MONZON, HAGLER & HOPKINS: Why Did They Never Move up?

09.08.05 - By Jim Amato: The middleweight division is second only to the heavyweights in glamour and prestige. "The Nonpareil" Jack Dempsey, Ketchel, Greb, Walker, Zale, Robinson, and Basilio have all graced this legendary division. The last three boxers who have been elevated to the mantle of greatness in this class were Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins, yet each boxer failed to do the one thing that may have cemented their ultimate link with the Gods of boxing. It also denied the fans of the three potentially exciting battles.

Greb, Walker, Zale, Robinson, Basilio, Tiger and Griffith all stepped out of their natural weight classes to cross gloves with larger men for and glory. Greb had Tunney, Ketchel had Johnson, Walker had Sharkey and Schmeling, Zale had Conn, Robinson had Maxim, Basilio moved up to fight Robnson and Gene Fullmer and Griffith also moved up from welterweight to meet Tiger and Dick would eventually capture the light heavyweight crown from the great Jose Torres..

Why then did Monzon, Hagler and Hopkins elect not to challenge their heavier contemporaries? A 1973 version of Bob Foster was not the kayo machine of the late 60's. Instead of meeting Griffith, Briscoe and Bouttier in re-runs, why not challenge Foster? Carlos was more than willing to entertain the challenge of the "smaller" Jose Napoles.

Michael Spinks wanted to fight Hagler. He even challenged Marvin in a couple of boxing publications. Still Marvin found it easier and very profitable to take on the likes of Duran, Hearns and Leonard. Remember Foster and Spinks moved up in to the land of the heavyweights.

The three ex-welterweight kings provided Hagler with prime time exposure and mega-paydays. He probably would have fought Benitez too if Wilfred would have defeated Hamsho. It's too bad we weren't given the opportunity to witness Foster-Monzon and Spinks-Hagler. To Hopkins credit he did call out Roy Jones Jr. at 175 pounds but Roy and Bernard were unable to come to terms.Bernard has also talked about meeting Antonio Tarver if Antonio beats Jones in their rubber match.Before any of that takes place Bernard has some unfinished businees with Jermain Taylor.

Great fighters make great fights. These all may have been classics.

Article posted on 09.08.2005

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