Boxing: 10 Fighters Who Should Walk Away

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2012

Boxing: 10 Fighters Who Should Walk Away

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    Boxing is a brutal business.

    Fighters often spend years in training hoping to seize on that one special moment that defines their career and makes them a star. Often times fighters don't see when that star has faded and fight on well past their prime, putting both their legacy and health in jeopardy.

    The following is the top 10 fighters who have achieved this dubious distinction.

    Believe me, it's not that we don't want you around anymore—though we don't—it's that we are really truly worried about you. Boxing is a violent sport and you've accomplished all you are likely to accomplish. Please go now with your health relatively intact and enjoy retirement. 

Evander Holyfield

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    Evander Holyfield is the easy place to start. A former undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight champion, Holyfield was one of the best fighters of his era. 

    But his era is long over, and the only one who doesn't seem to get that is the man himself.

    For those of us who grew up as Holyfield fans, you remember watching a man who wasn't the biggest or most talented guy get in there and go toe-to-toe with fighters like Ray Mercer, Riddick Bowe and George Foreman. You remember Evander Holyfield, who defied the odds and all the pundits and knocked out Mike Tyson in a fight that most considered him insane for even taking.

    You remember that great feeling you had when Holyfield settled the score and knocked down Michael Moorer five times en route to a stoppage victory. You remember the excitement of the buildup to the Holyfield-Lewis fights and then the sick feeling in your stomach when the ludicrous draw was announced.

    Regardless of what you felt towards Evander Holyfield the man, you could not dispute that there was never a man who entered the ring with more heart, determination and guts than the "Real Deal."

    But all of that, as we now get ready to leave 2012, has long since faded. Holyfield continues to trudge on against what can best be described as a collection of club-fighters and has-beens and even a few never-was fighters. He still entertains dreams of fighting for a piece of the heavyweight title and has recently been calling out the Klitschko brothers. 

    Thank goodness that both Vitali and Wladimir have declined the fight, citing their respect for the former champ. Evander hasn't held a heavyweight title since 2000 and last fought for one and ironically was robbed of it, against Nikolai Valuev in 2008. 

    Since being turned down by the Klitschkos, Holyfield has now set his sights on WBA champion Alexander Povetkin.

    For those of us who grew up rooting for Holyfield, this is horrible for many reasons. One, the man continues to fight when he is at least a decade past his prime. And two, this fight has a better than 50-50 shot of happening. All we can hope for is that Holyfield comes to his senses and gets out before it's too late.

Roy Jones Jr.

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    Wow how the mighty have fallen.

    Roy Jones Junior spent much of his career as the absolute, undisputed, No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. There was no debate, no controversy. Roy was simply untouchable and ruled the light heavyweight division without even a single legitimate challenge to his dominance.

    Jones was so good in fact that people began to question whether he was too good or his opponents too weak. The way that Jones would dominate opponents eventually turned against him in the public eye, as no legitimate challenges surfaced. 

    During his ascendancy and reign Jones did defeat several high quality opponents, including Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, Eric Lucas, Virgil Hill, Reggie Johnson and Montell Griffin. He made history by becoming the first man who began his career below middleweight to win a heavyweight title when he defeated John Ruiz.

    After defeating Ruiz, Jones moved back to light heavyweight and looked vulnerable for the first time, eking out a decision win over Antonio Tarver. Jones would lose his next three fights, two by a spectacular and scary knockout, against Tarver and Glen Johnson. He was effectively done as a top-flight fighter by this point.

    Meaningless wins over Felix Trinidad and Jeff Lacy not withstanding, Jones is absolutely done as a top-level fighter. At 43 years of age, he has been relegated to literally traveling the world in search of fighters looking for a name and belts that nobody cares about.

    Given that and his recent scary knockout losses against Danny Green and Denis Lebedev, it's time for Roy Jones to hang 'em up. He's made his money, and now he's just unnecessarily risking his health and legacy.

Antonio Tarver

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    Antonio Tarver is an easy call for someone who needs to realize that his time has past. Granted Tarver doesn't have nearly the number of rounds and fights under his belt as Holyfield and Jones, but given his age and recent link to performance-enhancing drugs, it's time to go.

    Tarver is a former undisputed light heavyweight champion, having beaten Roy Jones Jr. twice, who has also dabbled at heavyweight. Many felt his career was over after back-to-back defeats by Chad Dawson in 2008 and 2009. But Tarver suddenly returned to the upper echelon with a heavyweight victory over Nagy Aguilera in 2010 and then a stunning win over Danny Green in 2011.

    Tarver then signed on for a grudge match against raw cruiserweight prospect Lateef Kayode. In their fight in June of this year, Tarver struggled against Kayode, despite the fact that the Nigerian might be one of the most unpolished, wild fighters to ever step foot into a professional ring. 

    A very unsatisfying draw was instantly washed away when it was revealed, after the fight, that Tarver had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. When you're soon to be 44 and need PEDs to get a draw against a fighter of Kayode's level, it's time to call it a career.

James Toney

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    James Toney has won world titles at middleweight, super-middleweight and cruiserweight. A heavyweight title win, against John Ruiz, was wiped out by a positive steroid test. 

    Toney had his moments in the sun. He has defeated a number of high profile fighters, including Michael Nunn, Mike McCallum, Iran Barkley and Evander Holyfield.

    But Toney hasn't been relevant as a heavyweight, the class in which he currently competes, since losing a dominant decision against Samuel Peter in 2007. Since then, Toney has competed against a mix of fringe contenders and no-hopers. 

    In his most recent high profile fight, he was dominated and literally beaten around the ring by Russian cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev in late 2011. Toney was most recently mentioned as a possible comeback opponent for heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek later this year. 

    But given Toney's recent performance against Lebedev and his history of not taking care of his body, the fight was scrapped. It's time for "Lights Out" to realize that it's time to turn his own lights out.

Victor Ortiz

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    This one might be a little controversial as Ortiz is not old and hasn't been through the ring wars that some of the other guys on this list have endured. But Ortiz has now quit twice in high profile fights, and that speaks volumes on his ability to be an elite-level fighter.

    Ortiz took a great deal of heat, and rightfully so, for quitting in 2009 against Marcos Maidana. It took him nearly two years to rehabilitate his image, which he did, surviving multiple knockouts and winning a literal war against Andre Berto.

    The fight landed Ortiz a massive payday against Floyd Mayweather. But like many before him, he wilted under the pressure, and after a vicious, deliberate headbutt, he was knocked out while attempting to hug his opponent. Some have gone as far as to speculate that Ortiz's antics were done in an attempt to get out of a fight that he felt he could not win.

    Ortiz again had a chance to ascend to a top level with a pending fight against junior-middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez all locked up if he could just beat unheralded Josesito Lopez. But a broken jaw led Ortiz to once again quit, from a pivotal fight in his career, and it left his future uncertain.

    Now in no way is this meant to imply that quitting as a result of a broken jaw is in any way dishonorable. But guys have fought through it in the past and finished the fight. With a lot on the line for Ortiz, his decision to give it up raises serious questions about whether he will or should continue fighting.

Michael Katsidis

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    Michael Katsidis is an exciting, all-action type fighter. In other words, he's a crowd-pleaser. 

    He's stepped up in competition on several occasions but has lost every time. Notable fighters to beat him include Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz, Juan Manuel Marquez and Robert Guerrero.

    Katsidis has lost four of his last five fights and is done competing at an elite-level. But that's not even the problem. Guys who have had decent runs hang on all the time in hopes of cashing in one last time and landing that lottery punch. And it's happened before and almost certainly will happen again.

    The main problem for Katsidis is the level of punishment that he takes inside the ring. Even in fights that he's won, this guy seems to always emerge battered, bruised and bleeding. Given this and the fact that his only win in the last five fights was against an unheralded opponent,  it's time to hang 'em up.

Amir Khan

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    Another possibly controversial entrant on this list is the 25-year-old British fighter Amir Khan. Khan has twice been knocked out, in brutal fashion nonetheless, by opponents he was expected to beat.

    In his most recent fight, coming off of a controversial loss against Lamont Peterson, Khan was brutally sent to the canvas numerous times by Danny Garcia. It wasn't so much the loss as how it happened that bodes ill for Khan. Garcia was able to land wide, looping power shots that simply devastated the British fighter.

    Even after tasting the canvas numerous times, Khan never gave up on the fight and kept trying to fight back. Normally this would be a good thing. But when you combine this obvious level of bravery with his inability to get out of the way of huge power shots, you have the making of a big problem.

    A few British fighters have joined the chorus to say that Khan should hang up his gloves. Current world champion Carl Froch stated in the aftermath of the Garcia fight that he would retire if this happened to him, and former IBF cruiserweight champion Glenn McCrory has stated Khan should retire.

Jermain Taylor

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    Jermain Taylor is a former, undisputed middleweight champion. He has had a solid career as a pro and holds the distinction, whether you agree with the decisions or not, as the man who ended Bernard Hopkins' legendary run at middleweight. 

    But since his championship run at middleweight, it has been downhill for "Bad Intentions." A stunning knockout loss against Kelly Pavlik ended his run and led to a jump to super middleweight and a title shot against British champion Carl Froch.

    In the 12th round of a fight in which Taylor was leading on the scorecards he was again brutally stopped with a barrage of power punches after being dropped to the mat.

    Taylor next signed on to participate in Showtime's Super Six tournament at 168 pounds and was scheduled to face undefeated Arthur Abraham. Taylor was again stopped in scary fashion with just 12 seconds remaining in the fight. As a result, Taylor suffered a severe concussion and short-term memory loss.

    Since then, Taylor has fought two fights in late 2011 and early 2012 against b-level opposition.

    Unfortunately, Jermain Taylor plans on continuing his career, despite his susceptibility to brutal knockouts and a history of head injuries. But it would clearly be in his best interest to retire. 

Bernard Hopkins

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    Bernard Hopkins simply has nothing left to prove.

    He's a guaranteed future Hall of Famer, a living legend who has beaten all comers and a physical marvel at age 47. He is the oldest man to ever win a world championship, and he did it by winning the legitimate title and not simply one of the many alphabet championships. 

    There is no doubt that, with his body still in great shape and his defensive, low-risk style, Hopkins can still compete at a high level in the ring. But after losing his light heavyweight title in April to Chad Dawson, there are not many viable opponents out there for Hopkins. There is no market for a rematch with Dawson and while a fight with Andre Ward, should he get by Dawson this weekend, would be intriguing, it might not be the best idea.

    Hopkins has done enough in his career to earn a swan song fight. But beyond that, it's time for the best fighter of his era to call it a career.

Jose Luis Castillo

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    Jose Luis Castillo had a hell of a run as a professional prize fighter. You will still find many observers who claim Floyd Mayweather should have 1 L on his record from his first fight with the Mexican warrior.

    But Castillo continues to slog along in a sport in which he hasn't been relevant since he knocked out the late Diego Corrales in 2005. Since then, his wins have come against pedestrian opposition and his losses, to guys like Sebastian Lujan, Alfonso Gomez and Jorge Paez Jr., came against guys who wouldn't have made it out of the ring on their feet in his prime.

    Time for this proud Mexican warrior to see the writing on the wall and hang up the gloves.