Seven fighters it's not hard to root against!

By Darren Nichols


Seven fighters it's not hard to root against!

After becoming the most recognizable face in all of sports, Muhammad Ali was well aware that some of the people who paid good money to see The Greatest fight were actually there to see The Greatest lose.  While some wanted to see Ali’s record get tarnished because he refused to fight in Vietnam, others came through the turnstiles with hopes that the Louisville Lip would finally be zipped.  Still, it may have been, quite simply, because Ali was The Greatest, and they did not like that.  Regardless of their reasoning, these people loved to hate Ali, and whether in secret or with spit-spewing disparagement, they cheered for Ali’s downfall.

Not much has changed in the near twenty-five years since The Greatest hung them up.

All of us have our favorite fighters.  Those we root for from the very beginning in the hopes of one day telling our friends “I told you so,” and those we jump on the bandwagon with throughout their championship career.

But there are those fighters who we would love to see get clobbered.  Not hurt, just knocked off their high and mighty pedestal with their ego bruised for a good ten seconds.  That is the focus of the list you are about to read.

The seven fighters mentioned below may or may not be a champion, they may or may not be undefeated, and they may or may not be the best in their division.  Still, they each possess a certain quality that would make us feel better about ourselves if only they would have a bad day in the ring.

1. John Ruiz – Is there anything I need to say here?  Could I not just say “period” and everyone would just smile and nod in unison knowing we are all thinking the same thing?  Ruiz is not a fighter we would love to see lose again because of his inability as a boxer, for the Quiet Man has beaten names like Rahman, Golota, Holyfield, Oquendo, and Johnson, and that is not too shabby of a list if you stop and think about it.  But does he have to be so boring at winning fights and does his trainer/manager Norman Stone have to be so annoying?  James Toney almost got both of them out of our misery, but that was short lived thanks to Lights Out fighting Ruiz with a banned substance in his system.  Our luck will have it that we will be forced to watch the Quiet Man vie for the title again somewhere down the line, and hopefully then someone will give Ruiz and Stone a restraining order that bars them from even thinking about stepping into a boxing ring.

2. Floyd Mayweather Jr.- Not only has Pretty Boy never lost a fight, but for the ones that didn’t end in a knockout, Floyd won by unanimous decision.  For the fights that did end in a knockout, Mayweather was leading on all the cards before he sent his opponents to the canvas for good.  That means that out of the 102 judges who have scored Pretty Boy’s fights, not even one scored it for the other guy.  Jose Luis Castillo came close the first time according to fans, and even closer, according to the judges, in the rematch, but no fighter has yet to penetrate Pretty Boy’s slick defense, and most have succumbed to his vastly underrated power.  It will be exciting when Floyd finally loses, not because we want to see him lose, but because we want to see who the guy is who can actually beat Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather.

3. Roy Jones Jr. – Remember when you sat on the coach with a blank look on your face and your mouth wide open because you were trying to figure out if that was Roy or his alter ego RJ rapping his way into the ring?  That may have sealed the deal for some of us, but for most people, having to then watch a fighter who was being compared with the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson go up against fighters like Glen Kelly and Clinton Woods when he actually could have been facing opponents who would have improved his legacy, only fueled the “Roycott” fire.  For a while, Roy Jones Jr. was the bully of the divisions he fought in, and we were forced to watch him take the lunch money of little kids in ring.  Then, when someone was there to finally step up to Roy, the issue of how the purse money would be divided came into the equation, and since Roy and RJ both felt that each deserved 50%, their opponents were offered ridiculous crumbs.  Having to tolerate all this for so many years is what made Antonio Tarver’s jaw wrenching KO win over Roy so sweet, and now that the bully has shown weakness, we want to see more revenge take place.

4. Naseem Hamed – Put plain and simply, when a fighter enters the ring on a magic carpet ride, you just say to yourself: This guy has got to go down.  For a while, Hamed was able to back up his cockiness with his fist, but thanks to The Baby Faced Assassin, Hamed got a piece of some Humble Pie that pleased the pallet of the fight fans’ as much as it did Marco Antonio Barrera’s.  Hamed is gone (for now), but if and when he ever decides to make his return to the squared circle, he will be put on a short leash by the fans, having one chance to earn their approval.  Otherwise, we will want seconds, thirds, and fourths, on what was a magnificent and satisfying dessert almost four years ago.

5. Joe Calzaghe – When London, England is the closest you get to any American coastline while claiming you are the best in the super middleweight division for the past decade, it is only a matter of time before fight fans begin calling for your head to be delivered to them on a silver platter.  Their attitude is:  “If you are so good, then prove it.  Stop nestling yourself away in the safe-haven of hometown judges and inferior opponents, and come over the Land of the Free to see if you belong with the Home of the Brave.  Many of our fighters have gone over to fight Calzaghe, and even though none walked away with a win, with another referee, Byron Mitchell easily could have if he was given the chance.  Seeing Mitchell drop Calzaghe for the first time of his career, got us tasting blood, and we want more…over here…not Over There.

6. Bernard Hopkins – For someone who executes his moves so brilliantly in the ring, and speaks with such inconspicuous bravado before and after his fights, Hopkins is a guy you have got to respect, but deep inside hope he gets beat.  Unless you are a diehard fan, when someone holds the belts as long as Hopkins did before dropping a decision to Jermain Taylor last July, you want to see a changing of the guard once in a while to spice things up a bit.  It’s like in baseball, after so many times, it is nice to see other teams in the World Series besides the Yankees.  Even with the immense appreciation you have for how The Executioner has performed into his 40’s, there comes a time when you begin rooting for the underdog, with hopes that a new “Rocky” will emerge from his fight with Hopkins.

7. Wladimir Klitschko – As the old saying goes, “The taller they are the harder they fall,” and in boxing, the harder they fall, the more fun it is to watch.  The younger of the two Klitschko brothers was supposed to be the heir apparent to Lennox Lewis’ throne until Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster had their say.  When looking at Wlad’s record, you can see that he has been up against some fairly good opposition and beat them soundly.  Chris Byrd, the longest reigning heavyweight champion currently fighting met the canvas twice in his bout with Klitschko before losing a unanimous decision to him, and names like Barrett, McCline, Mercer, and Botha never heard the final bell against Wlad either.  However, thanks to Sanders and Brewster, we now know what Klitschko’s chin is made of, and since we all like seeing knockouts, it is Wlad’s opponents that we want to see land the bigger shots, because by doing so, we will mostly certainly see giant fall.


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