The sporting public’s fascination with busts is disturbing but understandable. To magnify and constantly remind a “bust” of his/her failures seems like slow and meticulous torture, and there is no shortage of lists, rankings and message boards that debate who the biggest busts are in every conceivable sport.
The interest in prospect flops does make sense. How can an athlete who was once so heralded and dominant not excel at the professional level (or, in some cases, even in college)?
Busts can derail a franchise’s rebuilding process and break the hearts of fans, and that’s without even delving into the personal psychological damage to the prospect in question.
Boxing, however, is somewhat unique in how prospects are developed. Given the scope of amateur boxing, fans will generally not see a prospect fight until they have turned professional, unless they have participated in the Olympics (and even catching televised Olympic boxing has become increasingly difficult).
While an NFL fan will generally have three to four years to form a well-founded personal assessment of an NCAA draft hopeful, boxing fans and writers are often subjected to the dubious salesmanship of promoters regarding who the top amateur prospects are.
Also, the current disconnect between amateur and professional boxing does not guarantee that an Olympic or World Amateur Champion will have success in the paid ranks. Much has to do with a fighter’s style, how they are matched and whether they have the genuine dedication and focus to succeed.
Oh, and don’t forget about the fact that any fighter is at the mercy of that one potentially fight-altering punch. The variables for success in boxing are so extreme that nearly every fighter’s career hangs in the balance from fight to fight.
With that, let’s look at a list of some memorable boxing prospect flops. Some were downright disappointing, while others simply did not/have not achieved the success imagined for them after turning pro; nevertheless, all of them carry their own unique stories of hope and frustration.