By John Clifford – Over the years in boxing there have been fighters who have been criticised and had their achievements discredited no matter how great they were, fighters such as Roy Jones Jnr, Larry Holmes, Joe Calzaghe and Floyd Mayweather to name but a few in my short lifetime, no doubt there are countless more from earlier periods. Fighters who apart from their faithful fans have had their careers dissected and pulled apart by both fans and critics around the world of boxing.
Fighters like this can possess all the skills, hold all the belts and beat almost if not everyone put in front of them and yet they will never gain the admiration or recognition their talent deserves.. Take probably the most hated fighter alive currently Floyd Mayweather a man, who has won world titles in five weight classes, has a 39-0 record and is considered probably the most talented exponent of the sweet science in his generation. However despite all these accomplishments the man formerly known as ‘pretty boy’ is forever being discredited whether it is his choice of opponent, style of fighting or even his personality you name it and fans and critics alike have both attacked it. If the man wins, his choice of opponent and style of victory are slated, if he was to lose the argument that he wasn’t so great after all would come out so for Mr Mayweather I feel win or lose he will never beat the boo’s.
Another fighter who no matter who he beat was never given full credit for his achievements is Larry Holmes, the former sparring partner for the ‘greatest’ has a 69-6 record with names like Ali, Berbick, Norton, Shavers and Spinks on it as well as 20 defences of his world title (organizational or lineal), yet during his reign Holmes was given little credit. Despite gaining a lot more respect since he retired I believe the Easton assassin a fighter with possibly the best jab ever has always had to put up with a little disrespect due to the era he fought in. This sort of treatment has also been given to Jones Jnr a fighter who won titles at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight, also Joe Calzaghe a man who sports a unbeaten record throughout his career is, like the others constantly called out on how good he is or was. No matter what these fighters achieved there was and always will be a question mark over them, I ask why? Is it due to their perceived lack of top opponents, their personality, nationality or is it that we live in a world which would rather credit the valiant loser than the cocky yet dominant champion?
These fighters in my opinion would fail to gain the recognition deserved even if they had beaten every single fighter in and around their weight classes, for their faces, cocky attitudes and personality annoys many people. For in the boxing world the majority of fans only tune in to see if the underdog can defeat the champion and when they do not they look for an excuse to knock the champs talent or record. However on the other end of the spectrum you have fighters like Manny Pacquiao, Sugar Ray Leonard and Osacr De La Hoya fighters who are also undoubtedly great and extremely talented but are also rarely if ever discredited or booed by fans. Take the Pac Man his achievements are astonishing yet not that different to those of Money Mayweather’s yet the praise for him is far more generous, again I ask why? From my point of view it must be his gracious attitude and respect for his opponents, which endears fans for his achievements while great do not overshadow PBF’s. Despite me believing this is the reason for Pacquaios greater praise I completely disagree with it for in my opinion a fighter’s talent and achievements should not be discredited because they have a confident, brash or dismissive attitude. Also if a fighter backs up his bold and slightly disrespectful statements as Calzaghe, Mayweather and Jones often did surely credit and respect must be given for they have predicted what they would do, thus adding unneeded pressure and then still delivered. Yet these kind of actions have only added fuel to the boo boys fire and again made sure that win or lose no recognition would be bestowed upon them.
Overall like in most sports certain athletes are heroes while some play the villains, however in all other sports most of the greats receive the respect deserved no matter what the publics opinion of the athlete in question, while in the toughest of all sports boxing I believe many like the fighters above are not given the respect and recognition their achievements deserve. For it seems that no matter whether they win or lose some fighters will never beat the boos ‘s.