Ranking the 10 Biggest Boxing Villains of the Past Decade
When Antonio Margarito fought his rematch with Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden in December 2011, the hallowed Garden walls echoed with boos and catcalls the moment Margarito's face appeared on the jumbo screen as the former world champion warmed up backstage. Over 20,000 fans screamed insults at Margarito as he made the long walk to the ring.
Margarito reveled in it, smiling broadly and swaggering like any professional wrestling heel. For playing the villain against Cotto, Margarito made one of the biggest paydays of his career.
There's money to be made for being disliked in the fight game, as long as you can keep winning enough to drive the haters crazy. The fighters on this list have collected some of their biggest purses while wearing the black hat.
10. Dereck Chisora
Dereck Chisora is a big, rowdy lout who likes to fight and is pretty good at it. The excitement he generates in the ring has created a loyal fanbase for Del Boy.
But make no mistake, Chisora is a villain. From spitting in heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko's face to rumbling with fellow British contender David Haye at a post-fight press conference, behaving badly is a big part of Chisora's image.
Chisora is 4-5 in his last nine fights, but his bad attitude keeps him relevant in the heavyweight division.
9. Bernard Hopkins
In recent years Bernard Hopkins has become an icon who transcends the sport. Aging baby boomers and Gen Xers who don't even normally pay attention to boxing see Hopkins as a hero.
But during his long and distinguished career, Hopkins has sold plenty of tickets as the bad guy. The biggest moment in his career was TKOing Felix Trinidad in front of a wildly pro-Trinidad crowd in Madison Square Garden.
Even in recent years, Hopkins has played the out-of-town rival in some of his biggest fights, like Joe Calzaghe in Wales and Jean Pascal in Montreal. Hopkins is a master of the sweet science, but he's always got a brawling technique ready to go when he needs it.
8. Tyson Fury
At nearly seven-feet tall, Tyson Fury has always come off as an arrogant bully. Even as he has remained undefeated as a professional, he has annoyed his detractors by relying on his massive size to beat more skilled opponents like Steve Cunningham.
Fury is a one of the biggest trash-talkers in the sport, and it's the kind of cocky, nearly delusional boasting that always marks a true villain. He's even gone out of his way to insult UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, calling the powerhouse wrestler "a midget."
7. David Haye
David Haye had a very dominant run as a cruiserweight world champion. As a heavyweight, he's earned most of his biggest fights with his mouth.
Haye stalked the Klitschko brothers for years, insulting them in public and on social media. He notoriously designed and wore a t-shirt featuring an image of himself holding both of the brothers' severed heads.
When he finally got a shot at Wladimir Klitschko in July 2011, Haye performed in true villain fashion. During the fight he was surprisingly timid, after his months of bold smack talk.
When the fight was over, he instantly pulled off his shoe and started making excuses about his injured big toe.
6. Ricardo Mayorga
Often referred to as "the craziest man in boxing," Ricardo Mayorga is a different breed of fighter. Over the years he has made a habit of chain-smoking his way through press conferences while colorfully insulting his opponents.
As a villain, Mayorga is a lot like classic wrestling heels Cactus Jack and Bruiser Brody. His maniacal brand of action is so entertaining that he ends up winning over a chunk of the fans in spite of himself.
The video included here is classic Mayorga, as he calls Fernando Vargas a "fat girl" and promises to turn all of Mexico against him.
5. Adrien Broner
It's been a long time since I've seen boxing fans as gleeful over a fighter losing as they were when Adrien Broner went down to Marcos Maidana last month. And while I generally view schadenfreude as a particularly base human emotion, in this case it pretty much feels like Broner had it coming.
Broner has often come off as an insufferable attention junkie during his short career, and in 2013 he reached new lows. His attempts to act like Floyd Mayweather, without the benefit of Mayweather's two-decade resume of excellence, just seemed clueless.
Still, Broner is an exciting and talented fighter, and he showed heart when he was rocked badly by Maidana. Boxing can certainly use a guy like him.
Love him or hate him, he was in two of 2013's biggest fights.
4. James Toney
James Toney is one of the best pound-for-pound boxers of his generation. He won world titles at middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight and minor belts at heavyweight.
He is also one of the great trash-talkers of all time. He is a cocky and belligerent thug, willing to call out anybody and always ready to back it up.
Toney even jawed his way into a big payday with the UFC. The video linked here is classic Toney, which is to say, hilarious, but not safe for work.
3. Zab Judah
I've become something of a Zab Judah fan in the past few years. He's a guy who had a lot of success at a young age and grew up in the sport. Judah since 2010 or so has been an elder statesman of the sport.
But back in the day, Judah was the Y2K version of Broner. The video shown here is built around his notorious KO loss to Kostya Tszyu, which ended with a distraught and badly confused Judah nearly starting a riot.
2. Floyd Mayweather
In professional wrestling terms, I think Mayweather's nearest equivalent is Rick Flair from the 1980s, when he was a member of the Four Horsemen.
Mayweather's got the money, the luxury cars, the chartered jets and the flashy bling. And in the ring he makes it look so easy it's almost embarrassing.
The more he wins, the more he swaggers and the more his haters long to see him go down.
Mayweather has also been one of the most popular boxers in the world over the past 10 years. His boxing ability is so undeniable that many fans like him purely for what he does in the ring.
But he would probably be the first one to admit that playing the villain is what has made him truly rich.
1. Antonio Margarito
Antonio Margarito was actually a pretty popular fighter before getting caught with loaded hand wraps prior to his 2009 fight with Shane Mosley. Wrapping your fists in plaster is among the more despicable things that a prizefighter can do.
Margarito's last fight prior to Mosley had been a come-from-behind TKO victory over Miguel Cotto. Cotto kept quiet about the controversy for a long time, but during the promotion of their December 2011 rematch, Cotto produced a picture of Margarito wearing what looked like bloody, plaster hand wraps after their first fight.
Margarito embraced the role of villain, frequently referring to himself as "the criminal" when doing promotional appearances with Cotto. The fight took place in a completely pro-Cotto venue, Madison Square Garden, where over 20,000 fans screamed for Margarito's blood.
Even after getting his eye swollen shut, Margarito remained villainous and unbowed, telling HBO's Max Kellerman in the post-fight interview that Cotto had "hit like a little girl."