Boxing’s Greatest Warriors
There are many reasons that people become boxing fans. Some people enjoy the strategy of the “sweet science” as two competitors look to create windows to take the other one to the canvas. Many boxers are tough, but the ability to walk through punches and dish out punishment is a special kind of skill.
People willing to engage in that type of bout can draw in large audiences thanks to their toughness. Being willing to be in fights that feature a lot of action can also lure in casual viewers. Here’s a look at some of the top warriors in boxing’s history. This list is in no particular order.
Marvin Hagler Had No Fear
There aren’t many objects known to man that Marvin Hagler couldn’t have deflected with his iron chin. In 65 professional boxing matches, Hagler accrued a 62-3 record and was never knocked out. Along the way, Hagler became the undisputed middleweight champion, reigning for seven years and making 12 title defenses.
Hagler’s most impressive performance came in April 1985 against Thomas Hearns. Hearns and Hagler engaged in a wild first round that saw both men unload barrages of punches. What Hagler displayed in this bout was his trademark toughness.
Hearns landed a stiff punch to Hagler in the first round. Hagler walked through it and put the pressure on Hearns. While Hagler would later be cut by a headbutt, he would persevere and finish Hearns with a flurry of punches in the third round.
Hagler is also remarkable in how he was able to know when to walk away. He retired after a loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987 and wanted a rematch following the split decision loss. However, when Leonard retired, he decided to enjoy retirement instead.
Foreman’s Return Showed His Greatness
George Foreman is on the record as saying he was cocky as a young fighter. Muhammad Ali took advantage of that during their famous Rumble in the Jungle Fight. Ali encouraged Foreman to swing for the fences and try to knock Ali out.
However, Foreman would end up burning himself out. Ali ended up knocking Foreman out in the eighth round. Foreman fought for three more years before retiring in 1977 following a loss to Jimmy Young in Puerto Rico. Foreman took ten years off from the sport before returning.
When Foreman returned, he was a changed man. More appreciative of the time he had left, Foreman would pull off one of the surprise wins in boxing history. Foreman, at age 45, knocked out Michael Moore in the 10th round to win the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles. Foreman’s warrior spirit was able to help him climb back up the heavyweight ladder.
Amazingly, Foreman also had an extended life after boxing as a pitchman. Once known for his scowl in the ring, Foreman developed a personality as a much friendlier man when he was done fighting.
Pacquiao Had Plenty of Toughness
What made Manny Pacquiao a fan favorite was his tenacity, backed up by his world-class skill in the ring. Pacquiao was so determined to fight that he put coins in his pocket early in his career to reach the minimum weight of 105 pounds for a fight. But Pacquiao would end up finding a way to quickly gain pounds as his career grew.
Pacquiao fought 72 times professionally in eight different weight divisions. He would hold championships in five different weight divisions. Throughout Pacquiao’s career, the small-bodied fighter would develop knockout power. The latest boxing news online shows that Pacquiao is still taking exhibition fights well into his 40s.
Pacquiao improved to 62-8 in his career and won 39 of those fights by knockout. Pacquiao proved to be tough outside the ring as well. Online boxing news shows he got involved with politics in the native Philippines and showed he is willing to fight for a lot more than just belts in the boxing ring.
Braddock Was Champion, Longshoreman, War Hero
James J. Braddock is one of the more unlikely heavyweight champions in boxing history. Braddock was picked to fight champion Max Baer in June 1935 because he was seen as an easy fight for the champion. However, Braddock never stopped coming forward despite Baer landing several power shots.
Braddock won a unanimous decision to claim the title. It was a shocking development because Braddock had been hit hard by the Great Depression and was struggling to find work and feed his family. Braddock’s time at the top in boxing would be brief. He fought Joe Louis in June 1937 in Chicago, losing by knockout in the eighth round.
Braddock finished his career with a 52-26-7 record, including three no contests. During his post-boxing life, Braddock enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and fought in the Pacific Theater. He trained the other men in hand-to-hand combat.
Tyson Has Been One of Sports More Enduring Figures
While Mike Tyson struggled toward the end of his career, there was no one more damaging to the heavyweight division in the 1980s. Tyson, who at 5-foot-10 wasn’t tall for a heavyweight, built his reputation by intimidating people with his heavy power. As a professional, Tyson recorded 44 of his 50 wins by knockout.
Personal demons and bad influences in his life sank Tyson. While Tyson would fight well into his 30s, Tyson’s career essentially ended after back-to-back losses to Evander Holyfield in 1996 and 1997. On his way up, however, few were more feared than Tyson.
Tyson won the undisputed heavyweight championship in August 1997 at the age of 21 when he won a unanimous decision against Tony Tucker. Tyson would go on to defend the undisputed belt six times. That’s more than any other modern champion has done so. Heavyweight boxing news shows that Tyson’s tenacity in the ring has resonated with the sport long beyond his career.
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By Dean McHugh.