10 Examples of Boxing Trash Talk Gone Wrong
Many boxers do it, some quite well, but sometimes even the best at it fall flat on their face.
An old saying goes that if you're willing to run your mouth, you better be willing and able to back it up. Otherwise, you'll end up writing checks that your body can't cash.
That's what happened to these ten men. Some are recent—as recent as the past few months—and some go back a bit, but all are examples of people in boxing not being able to walk the walk after they've talked the talk.
These are 10 examples of boxing trash talk gone wrong.
Mike Tyson Wants to Eat Lennox Lewis' Children
Mike Tyson, particularly later in his career, was known as a wild, trash talking, borderline madman who seemed like a satire of his former self at times. The former baddest man on the planet became an all you can eat buffet of quotables from the ridiculous to the profane.
And then there was the just plain odd.
Like the stupefying rant—directed at then heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis—Tyson launched into after his demolition of Lou Savarese in 2000.
Responding to a question about whether or not the fight was the quickest of his career, Tyson replied:
“Lennox, I’m coming for you...My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious. I want your heart. I want to eat his [Lewis] children.”
Tyson stormed off after making his comments—it was probably for the best—and left a stunned Jim Gray in his wake.
It came off as the rantings of someone who was totally unhinged, which Tyson was at the time and served as quite the prelude to the eventual Lewis vs. Tyson tilt, which would take place almost two years to the day after these oddball comments.
By that point, years of hard living had taken their toll on Iron Mike.
He was less than a shell of his former glory, and Lewis pounded him around the ring for eight one-sided rounds before forcing a stoppage, his nonexistent, at the time, children safe and sound.
Adrien Broner and the Can Man
Adrien Broner just can’t seem to avoid controversy.
The 24-year-old from Cincinnati, Ohio, has won world titles in three weight divisions, but he’s rubbed almost everyone the wrong way at one time or another. He’s brash, unapologetic and, at times, just plain classless.
But he’s also a pretty talented fighter—at times.
Broner stepped into it once again this past May, defeating the light hitting and unheralded Carlos Molina on the undercard of Mayweather vs. Maidana at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The performance wasn’t all that impressive—Molina more than held his own in the early going despite his obvious physical limitations—and The Problem’s post-fight comments didn’t make the situation any easier to swallow.
In the ring after the fight, Broner rehashed a version of his famous/infamous—depending on how you look at it—”can man” speech.
Broner, as he has many times in the past, referred to himself as the “can man,” going on to say that anyone “can” get it (note: the video link contains language that is NSFW), “Afri-Cans” and telling Jim Gray that he had just “beat the f--k out out a Mexi-can.”
The comments drew an immediate smackdown from Gray, and they resulted in a firestorm of criticism from many who felt they were racially motivated and insensitive.
You can make that judgment on your own—and it’s worth noting again that Broner has used versions of the “can man” taunt in the past without incident or outcry—but the WBC certainly wasn’t laughing.
In a drastic overreach—by the same organization that didn’t take action when Floyd Mayweather called Manny Pacquiao a “little yellow chump” among other racially insensitive comments in 2010—the WBC, its proverbial panties in a bunch, suspended Broner indefinitely, pending an apology.
Maybe it was just a stupid comment, and the reaction seems a bit overblown, but these are definitely a couple of trash-talking words that Broner wishes he had back.
Or maybe he doesn’t.
The Golden Boy Drops the Nicaraguan Madman
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, about Ricardo Mayorga that can be considered safe for work.
The Nicaraguan made his name by being a beer-chugging, cigarette-puffing wild man before and after his fights.
Mayorga burst on the scene with a stunning knockout victory of the late, previously unbeaten Vernon Forrest in 2003. It was then that the boxing world got its first glimpse of the character that was the madman from Managua, Nicaragua.
When you signed up to face Mayorga, you knew a couple of things off the bat.
One, you were in for a match with a crude, unrefined but eminently tough SOB. And two, you were going to be on the receiving end of very personal, very vulgar verbal assaults from the minute the fight was announced until it was over.
Some of this stuff was plain ugly, and it wasn’t too far beneath Mayorga to often sling ethnic and gender-based slurs at his opponent. He seemed to have a particular dislike for fellow Latino fighters, and he would frequently become unhinged while slinging mud at them in his native tongue.
But nobody received a more vulgar tongue lashing from the Nicaraguan wild man than Oscar De La Hoya.
De La Hoya considered retirement after being knocked out on a body shot by Bernard Hopkins in 2003, but he instead decided to drop back down to junior middleweight and challenge Mayorga for his WBC belt.
Mayorga and De La Hoya had to be separated on at least two occasions during pre-fight events, with Mayorga constantly referring to De La Hoya using homophobic slurs, questioning his manhood and insulting his wife and son.
Coming into fight night, Mayorga had written a lot of checks that his body was unable to cash.
De La Hoya dominated the fight from beginning to end, seeming to enjoy giving Mayorga the pounding of his life. The Nicaraguan was dropped multiple times—the first of which coming in the opening stanza—and was spectacularly stopped on a 20-punch combination in Round 6.
It was little more than a glorified beatdown, and De La Hoya made Mayorga eat all of his words.
George Groves Talks the Walk, Carl Froch Walks the Walk
George Groves was one bad stoppage away from becoming the United Kingdom’s newest boxing star.
When he stepped through the ropes last November, Groves was a young, undefeated but untested fighter with the chance to seize the throne of British boxing royalty against its longtime standard bearer.
Groves dropped Carl Froch in the opening round, and he gave him fits for the remainder of the fight, ahead on the scorecards when referee Howard Foster controversially pulled the plug on him in Round 9.
Froch got the official win on his ledger, but in all the ways that count—public perception being the main one—Groves stole the night. An immediate rematch was quickly finalized, and Froch was battered mentally by the whole experience.
Groves, at one point, took up so much free real estate in his head that Froch was forced to bring in a sports psychologist to help him get back on track before the rematch this past May.
All signs pointed to the ascendancy of a new champion. Groves was younger, quicker and more mentally prepared for the moment.
He promised to bully Froch throughout the promotion for the fight, and he kept up his pledge and then some.
Groves frequently made fun of Froch, pointing out that he cannot mentally handle the verbal exchanges needed to hype a fight and promising to knock him out in three rounds.
So much for that.
Froch was the one with his hand raised for the second time, decisively stopping Groves with a blistering right hand in Round 8 that left his challenger a crumpled mess on the mat, his leg grotesquely bent under him at an odd angle.
Groves might have gotten into Froch’s head, but the Cobra very nearly put his fist through his.
Sergio Martinez Promises a Knockout an Gets Knocked out
Sergio Martinez made no secret that he felt very much disrespected by Miguel Cotto in the negotiations and lead up to their middleweight championship clash this June at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
And while many of the complaints leveled by the Argentine former champion were not issues on fight night—Martinez was annoyed about the prospect of walking to the ring first and being announced first as the champion, neither of which happened—Maravilla still promised to take his frustrations out on Cotto in the ring.
The normally reserved champion carried a chip on his shoulder not seen since he made a fool out of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in September 2012 to regain the middleweight title that he never lost in the ring.
He promised a beatdown and a knockout of the Puerto Rican icon, a scenario that many in the boxing media felt was exactly what would happen given his physical and stylistic advantages.
Martinez proved to be only half right in his prediction. The fight was indeed a beatdown, but unexpectedly, he was the one swallowing all the leather.
Cotto unleashed a hellacious beating on Martinez, dropping him three times in the opening round, stunning the sold out pro-Cotto crowd and setting the tone for the remainder of the brutally one-sided affair.
Martinez was never in the fight. His corner pulled him out after nine rounds, giving Cotto a historic victory and the recognized middleweight championship of the world.
David Haye Promises to Execute Wladimir Klitschko
David Haye is/was—there remains some doubt about whether or not he’s legitimately retired or not—one of the most brash, trash-talking British fighters in the history of the sport.
A formerly dominant cruiserweight champion, Haye decided to make the jump up to the territory of the super heavies, successfully challenging Nikolay Valuev for the WBA Heavyweight Championship in 2009.
Haye successfully defended the title twice, defeating former champion John Ruiz and Audley Harrison, before stepping in with the biggest dog in the yard, challenging Wladimir Klitschko in a unification contest in 2011.
Klitschko—one of the most reserved, professional champions boxing has ever produced—doesn’t engage in trash talk. It’s just not in him.
The rare times that he has been forced into trading verbal fisticuffs, he's never treaded outside the territory of promising to make a foe pay for their words.
Haye went out of his way to taunt Klitschko in the lead up to their fight, going as far as to call him a b-level champion and have a t-shirt printed up that saw him standing over the Klitschko brothers, their decapitated heads in his hands.
But it was Klitschko who took his pound of flesh from Haye in the ring. He made the Brit look downright silly, nullifying his offense completely and using his jab to pop him in the face at will.
Klitschko captured a wide unanimous decision, and Haye has only fought once since. He remains in the news these days, as he often did while fighting, for his mouth and not his fists.
Ruben Guerrero Writes a Check That the Ghost Can't Cash
Ruben Guerrero far outshined his much more reserved son Robert during the promotion for last year’s showdown with pound-for-pound king, Mayweather.
Mayweather, no stranger to trash talk himself, nor his father Floyd Sr.—quite the ornery old cuss himself—could even hold a candle to the elder Guerrero on this occasion.
Ruben didn’t hold back anything during the final press conference before Guerrero’s challenge of Mayweather in May of 2013, taking full aim at the pound-for-pound king’s domestic violence issues and telling the assembled media (the following video is NSFW), per Kevin Iole:
We're going to beat up that woman beater, the one that beat up his wife, man," Ruben Guerrero said, firing his arms into the air. "[He beat up] his wife in front of his kids. You guys like that [expletive]? You like this guy, this woman beater? He must have learned it from his Dad. Women beaters, baby. We're going to beat that woman beater. We'll see how he's going to like it. He's going to get it from a real man. Damn women beaters. We're going to beat that woman beater down. I'm serious.
Mayweather served a stint in a Las Vegas jail for domestic battery in 2012, and while nobody will or should make light of that situation, Guerrero didn’t do a very good job of punishing him for the offense like his father promised he would.
Mayweather showed absolutely no ill effects from his time behind bars and the extend layoff it necessitated, peppering Guerrero from the outside at will en route to yet another dominant decision victory.
It was just another day at the office, but you can’t fault Guerrero for stirring the pot and, truthfully, probably saying what a lot of people were thinking.
Naseem Hamed Promises Knockout, Gets Dominated by Barrera
Prince Naseem Hamed is a polarizing character. He was flamboyant, one of the best trash talkers in the sport, and in case you missed it, he was a heckuva fighter.
People tend to equate Hamed’s lesser qualities—he rubbed many people the wrong way with his over the top perception of himself and a complete lack of humility—with a belief that he wasn’t much more than a hype job.
That’s not fair.
Hamed amassed a 36-1 career mark while winning three world championships and maintaining a perfect mark in title fights. The one fight he lost came against a future Hall of Famer in Marco Antonio Barrera, but boy, that was a doozy.
The Prince was his usual self coming into the fight.
Hamed disrespected Barrera at every turn leading up to fight night. He promised a devastating knockout and disrespected the Mexican warrior every chance he got.
That didn’t work out too well for him the night of the fight.
Barrera simply outclassed him. He outfought him, out thought him and put on a comprehensive boxing clinic to hand the brash Brit the first loss of his professional career.
To his credit, Hamed was respectful, handling the post-fight fallout with class. He just got beat by a superior fighter, and there’s no shame in that.
He would only fight once more before calling it a career, and it was the Barrera defeat that took it all out of him.
Bob Arum Strikes out on Mayweather vs. Maidana
Bob Arum doesn’t like to be disrespected.
The 82-year-old head of Top Rank—one of boxing’s two main promotional outfits—took aim right between the eyes at the MGM Grand in April, criticizing the hotel—in their own building in front of their senior management—for promoting Mayweather’s upcoming tilt with Marcos Maidana ahead of his own fight—Pacquiao vs. Bradley 2—which was just days away.
Arum’s diatribe spared few, and it centered on his belief that the MGM, and really the boxing community at large, was doing a disservice by promoting yet another Mayweather mismatch.
He ripped the MGM for promoting a “12-1 fight all over the building that’s going to take place three weeks from next Saturday,” over his fight which was just a couple of days away.
Arum went on to call for the public to boycott the “nonsense” Mayweather vs. Maidana fight at the post-fight press conference, and he encouraged boxing writers and media members to communicate that message to fans.
Truthfully, it was hard to criticize Arum for his points. They largely echoed the sentiments of most in the boxing community who didn’t expect Maidana to put up nearly as spirited a fight as he did on May 3.
But, as it turns out, Mayweather vs. Maidana was far more compelling, exciting and dramatic than Pacquiao vs. Bradley 2, which after a couple of exciting early rounds largely mirrored the Filipino’s dominance in the first fight.
Tim Bradley Says Manny Lacks the Fire and Get Burned
Tim Bradley spent month after month telling everyone who would listen that Manny Pacquiao just didn’t have it anymore.
The “it” Bradley was referring to was the fire to compete at a top level, and the Palm Springs native frequently pointed out Pacquiao’s unwillingness to attack his foes with the same type of abandon fans saw during his meteoric rise to the top of boxing.
And you couldn’t fault Bradley.
Pacquiao was a buzzsaw when he rose through the ranks. He attacked his foes with a vicious abandon not seen in the sport in many years. The Filipino icon cut a swath from featherweight to junior middleweight, winning titles at every stop along the way.
But in his most recent fights, he’s appeared to take his foot off the gas pedal, particularly when he had his foe in some trouble.
Bradley used that as a means of taunting and getting under the Pac Man’s skin, but it ultimately backfired for him in their rematch this past April.
After a few dicey moments in the early rounds—in which Bradley, as promised, came out hunting for a knockout—Pacquiao, who had warned Bradley to be careful what he wished for, took over the fight in the middle rounds.
He neutralized a tiring Bradley’s attack, using his superior speed and power to connect and hurt his opponent with big punches.
At the end of the night, it wasn’t an “old Pacquiao” performance, but it was enough to silence some critics, the biggest of which being Bradley himself.
Kevin McRae is a featured boxing columnist for Bleacher Report and an auxiliary member of the Boxing Writer's Association of America (BWAA). You can follow him on Twitter @McRaeBoxing.