Ranking the 10 Flashiest Boxers in the Last Decade
It's as predictable as the change of seasons.
When one era's Ray Robinson fades, another era's Cassius Clay emerges. And when one era's Muhammad Ali reaches the end, another era's Ray Leonard is there to keep the tradition alive.
Regardless of the state of the gloved, ringed sport, you can almost always count on a few fighters to not only push the envelope with their fist skills but also walk the line of propriety with their words, outfits or their fighting styles.
We assembled a list of 10 boxers who've done just that in the last 10 years. Click through to see our picks and feel free to drop a few comments/suggestions of your own as well.
10. Hector Camacho
Fight cred: World titles at 130, 135 and 140 pounds.
Flash cred: Lost amid the "Macho Curl" hairstyle and the ahead-of-their-time trunks was the fact that, in his prime at 130 pounds, Hector Camacho was one of the world's top fighters. His foot speed and combination punching made him a world champion in his 23rd pro fight at the tender age of 21. Still, he's far better known for a quick lip and a seemingly endless career that saw him still plying his trade 10 days before his 48th birthday in 2010.
9. Shane Mosley
Fight cred: World titles at 135, 147 and 154 pounds.
Flash cred: Though he carried the same nickname as two of the most famous flashy boxers in history, "Sugar" Shane Mosley was slightly less regal and perhaps a more common man than Mssrs. Robinson and Leonard. Still, his quick hands and feet were never more in evidence than during his days at 135 pounds, where he was an eight-defense world champion through 1999. The higher he rose in weight, the less he was able to rely on his athleticism, outside perhaps of the memorable 2009 beating of Antonio Margarito—Mosley's last great night as a pro.
8. Sergio Martinez
Fight cred: World titles at 154 and 160 pounds.
Flash cred: Dismissed early on in his career as a light-hitting foreigner with a soft resume, the man known as "Maravilla" developed a world-level reputation as a middleweight while racking up names like Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on his victim's list. Sergio Martinez's quick hands and feet have only been intermittently on display since he became the king of the middleweights, but he used each and every one of those athletic skills in vanquishing Chavez in 2012.
7. Joe Calzaghe
Fight cred: World title at 168.
Flash cred: He was 40-0 upon meeting unbeaten American Jeff Lacy in 2006, and many experts expected largely unknown Welshman Joe Calzaghe to take a beating at the fists of his burly, powerful foe. Instead, the 33-year-old gave his opponent as thorough a schooling as there has been in a big-stage fight in a generation—foiling him with hands, feet and intellect. Even at the end of his career, in a 2008 swan song against Roy Jones Jr., he was still at his dropped-hands, chin-baring best.
6. Cory Spinks
Fight cred: World titles at 147 and 154 pounds.
Flash cred: Forget the version of Cory Spinks who lost five of his last eight fights and instead recall the slap-punching, elusive incarnation that walked away with three world title belts after foiling Ricardo Mayorga in 2003. The following year, he was a big underdog against Zab Judah but walked away a winner after bamboozling "Super Zab" over 12 rounds. The success quickly went to his head, however, when a Nelly-led ring walk in a rematch with Judah was the lone positive of a TKO rematch loss 10 months later.
5. Oscar De La Hoya
Fight cred: World titles at 130, 135, 140, 147, 154 and 160 pounds.
Flash cred: Truth told, Oscar De La Hoya probably doesn't get the credit he deserves for the fighter he actually was. Though he was a crossover star with a winning smile and an Olympic hero with a "Golden Boy" moniker, the six-division champion got off the canvas and staged stirring rallies to win fights throughout his career—and he remains the only man to ever be judged the winner of a 12-round fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
4. Roy Jones Jr.
Fight cred: World titles at 160, 168, 175 and heavyweight.
Flash cred: Want a guy to put both hands behind his back and then knock an opponent out? Want a guy to play minor league basketball by day and defend a world title at night? If your answer is yes, then Roy Jones Jr. is the flashy fighter for you.
"Superman" was an unstoppable force for a 10-year stretch between 1993 and 2003, taking out young versions of Bernard Hopkins and James Toney and slightly more dated versions of Mike McCallum and Virgil Hill. Too bad the modern generation will only know him as the HBO commentator who wouldn't stop traveling for an in-ring payday, because the children of the 1990s saw one of the all-time greats.
3. Paulie Malignaggi
Fight cred: World titles at 140 and 147 pounds.
Flash cred: OK, raise your hands if you've ever seen a fighter enter the ring with fake dreadlock extensions and then see those same extensions tied back during the bout because they were impeding his ability to fight.
That's part of the perpetual circus with Paulie "Magic Man" Malignaggi, who's actually added layers to his ring resume since he became a part-time fighter and a part-time Showtime commentator. Trunks, painted hair and a chronically moving mouth are all in the same low-cost package with Malignaggi, and a recent schooling of Zab Judah has ensured at least one more star turn before he goes full time as a mic man.
2. Adrien Broner
Fight cred: World titles at 130, 135 and 147 pounds.
Flash cred: It's been a rough week to be Adrien Broner. He was dropped, battered and humiliated in a one-sided loss to Marcos Maidana that cost him both his share of the welterweight title and any pound-for-pound street cred he'd claimed on the way in. The quick dash from the ring to avoid the post-fight interview didn't help matters, even though his absorbing a beating for 12 rounds probably gave some clue as to how tough he is behind the self-worshiping, camera-ready persona. How he returns—and if he returns—from the prime-time humbling will be one of boxing's most fascinating stories of 2014.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Fight cred: World titles at 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154 pounds.
Flash cred: C'mon, was there really any doubt? The man who transformed mid-career from "Pretty Boy" to "Money" is the undisputed champion of pay-per-view and has carried that acumen for the better part of a decade across a pair of cable platforms.
He's the straw that's stirred both the 24/7 and All Access drinks, and the announcement of his next opponent will instantly trigger a stream of a week's worth of opinion columns on any site calling itself a legitimate source of boxing information. The lone question remaining is: Will he finish out his career with the 0 intact, or will he suffer the same fate as wannabe Adrien Broner?
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