Floyd Mayweather and Top 8 Boxing Champs Who Served Time During Their Careers
Floyd Mayweather, who went to jail on June 1 this year and was released just 64 days later, is not the first fighter to serve time during his boxing career and sadly won’t be the last.
Boxing has always been a sport about second chances. Sonny Liston went on to be the heavyweight champion of the world after serving his time in prison.
Ron Lyle, a convicted murderer, challenged Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title in 1975, and made a great career for himself after serving time.
James Scott was even the No. 1 light heavyweight contender in the world and actively fought while imprisoned in New Jersey in the late 1970’s and early 80’s.
To list all the fighters who have been to prison or jail throughout the years would take forever. So for the sake of this list, I narrowed it down to fighters who have won championships and served time during their careers.
1. Johnny Tapia
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Johnny “Mi Vida Loca” Tapia certainly had a crazy life. In addition to the matches he fought in the ring, he also waged a highly publicized battle with drugs and alcohol outside of it.
Tapia lost three and half years of his career due to his drug and alcohol addiction, after he was suspended for multiple positive tests for cocaine use. Throughout his career, he would battle his inner demons and would serve time for various drug- and alcohol-related offenses.
Tapia, who recently died, was a three-division champion during the course of his career and is a surefire Hall of Famer.
2. Mark Johnson
Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson is the best little fighter most people have never heard of. Johnson, who hails from Washington, D.C., is a former two-division world champion and was a staple of the pound-for-pound list during his career.
Johnson never got the big marquee matchups he deserved and was seemingly avoided by Danny Romero and Johnny Tapia, both whom both vacated their titles rather than face the hard-hitting Johnson.
Johnson briefly served time for a domestic-related offense in 2000. Upon his release from prison, Johnson would once again capture world championship gold by defeating Fernando Montiel for the WBO super flyweight title.
Johnson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame earlier this year.
3. Mike Tyson
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Mike Tyson was at one point the most feared boxer on the planet until he suffered a humiliating knockout loss to James “Buster” Douglas in 1990. With the loss to Douglas, Tyson’s world seemed to come crumbling down.
In 1992, an Indiana court convicted the former heavyweight champion of the rape of an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant and sentenced him to six years in prison.
Tyson, who has always maintained his innocence, was released after spending just three years in prison for his crime.
Upon his release, Tyson resumed his boxing career and once again captured the heavyweight title.
4. Eric Morel
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Eric Morel is a former WBA flyweight champion and represented the U.S. in the 1996 Olympic Games.
Morel won the WBA title in 1998 by defeating Sornpichai Kratingdaenggym of Thailand by an unanimous decision.
In 2002, the former champion Morel would be charged with rape of a 15-year-old girl. He was later convicted of a lesser crime and sentenced to two years in prison.
Since being released, Morel has continued his boxing career and was recently defeated in his attempt to win the IBF bantamweight title from Leo Santa Cruz.
5. Dwight Muhammad Qawi
Dwight Muhammad Qawi, who was born Dwight Braxton, was a major player in the light heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions during his Hall of Fame career.
Qawi learned to box in a New Jersey prison while serving five years for armed robbery. Upon his release, he embarked on a pro career that would almost be sidelined again when he was convicted of assault.
The judge in the matter saw fit to give the boxer five years of supervised probation rather than sending him back to prison.
During his career, Qawi would engage in legendary fights with Evander Holyfield, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Matthew Saad Muhammad and others.
6. Paul Spadafora
Photo courtesy of John D. D. Woodland Jr.
Paul “The Pittsburgh Kid” Spadafora is the former IBF lightweight champion and is still undefeated in his professional boxing career despite being sidelined for more than a year while in prison.
Spadafora, whose issues with drugs and alcohol have plagued his entire career, shot his pregnant fiancee Nadine Russo in 2003 during a bender.
Since being released from prison, Spadafora has had numerous run-ins with the law and has been in and out of drug rehab facilities.
Spadafora is sober these days and is looking to resurrect his once-promising boxing career under the tutelage of his former trainer, the highly respected Tom Yankello.
7. Diego Corrales
The late Diego “Chico” Corrales is a former junior lightweight and lightweight world champion from Sacramento, Calif.
Corrales was convicted of assaulting his pregnant girlfriend just prior to his showdown with then-super featherweight king Floyd Mayweather Jr. on HBO in 2001. The fight with Mayweather would see Corrales taste the canvas five times before his corner threw in the towel in Round 10.
Corrales would serve 14 months in prison for his crime.
Upon his release, Corrales would resume his boxing career and once again become a world champion.. He captured the WBO super featherweight title, along with the WBO and WBC lightweight titles, before his death on May 7, 2007.
8. Scott Harrison
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Scott Harrison is a former two-time WBO featherweight champion who is probably known more for his outside-of-the-ring fights than for his boxing matches.
The often-troubled Harrison was sentenced to two and a half years in prison as part of a plea bargain for a 2006 incident in which he assaulted a police officer and another man.
Since Harrison’s release from a Spanish prison in 2011, he has only fought once, though he does have a fight scheduled against a yet-to-be announced opponent on Sept. 22.
At 35, it would be quite the accomplishment if the Scottish fighter can once again capture championship gold.