10 Boxers Who've Been Unfairly Given the 'Boring' Label

Briggs Seekins@BriggsfighttalkFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2014

10 Boxers Who've Been Unfairly Given the 'Boring' Label

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    The art of boxing is hitting without being hit. Few fighters in history have been better at this than Floyd Mayweather, yet many so-called fans deride the pound-for-pound king as "a runner." 

    In April 2013, Guillermo Rigondeaux made one of the most dangerous offensive fighters of this generation look like an amateur when he schooled Nonito Donaire. But it almost seems like he's been punished for his stellar performance by HBO, with his promoter Bob Arum telling ESPN's Dan Rafael that "everytime I mention him, they throw up."

    I'm not here to deny that a slugfest is exciting. There's nothing more dramatic in sports than two fighters putting it all on the line and going to war. But those kind of fights should happen organically, when a couple of evenly matched warriors come up against each other and neither is willing to yield. 

    But fighters shouldn't be expected to throw away their health seeking out punishment. A fighter with the craft to win without being hurt deserves to be celebrated, not condemned as boring. 

10. Wladimir Klitschko

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    I've got heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko at the bottom of this list because, frankly, at times his overly cautious approach is a bit ugly to watch. For a fighter with his height, clinching and leaning is a valid strategy at times. It's why the great Emanuel Steward taught him to do it. 

    But Klitschko relies on it too much and at times is less than exciting. His long-awaited fight with Alexander Povetkin last year was a classic example. 

    Still, even that fight had some moments of excitement, like when Klitschko opened up in Round 7 and dropped the Russian challenger three times. Despite his bouts of timidity, Klitschko is a dangerous offensive fighter, with a battering ram for a jab and a thunderbolt for a straight right. 

    In a career that is almost two decades long, Klitschko has compiled a KO percentage of 80 percent. I have to believe that if he was from Philadelphia or Detroit, he'd receive a lot more affection from American fans. 

9. Chad Dawson

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    Chad Dawson has been in some less-than-thrilling fights. His victory over Bernard Hopkins, for example, was slow paced and tactical. 

    But some style matchups are going produce those kind of fights. At the time the bout between Hopkins and Dawson took place, they were the top two fighters in the light heavyweight division and needed to meet in the ring. As a fan, I found it interesting to watch their clash play out.

    Not every fight can be Gatti-Ward. That's what makes those kind of fights so special. For a serious fan, different fights offer different things to contemplate and enjoy.  

    If Dawson continues on the comeback trail, I expect he'll shed some of his boring reputation. Against Sergey Kovalev or in a rematch with Adonis Stevenson, he'll likely have to dig in and trade to have a chance. 

8. Miguel Vazquez

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    IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez is a defensive specialist, and for the casual fan who wants to see a Rocky movie in every bout, he's going to be a hard sell for excitement. An uneducated fan would be inclined to call him a runner. 

    But a boxing ring is an enclosed area. So the truth is, there's no place to run. And a fighter like Vazquez doesn't run. He retreats and resets to counter attack, like any smart general.

    I'll be the first to admit, Vazquez's December 2012 meeting with Mercito Gesta was painful to watch. But I put the fault for that on Top Rank's match-makers. They were so anxious to build Gesta into another Manny Pacquiao that they threw him into a title fight with a champion who was entire skill levels above him.

    Gesta had no ability at all to cut the ring off on Vazquez and spent a good part of the fight in the center of the ring, throwing his hands up in frustration.

    Match Vazquez with a patient, canny fighter like Mikey Garcia or Terence Crawford, and the results won't be boring.  

7. Timothy Bradley

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    If I'd done this list at the start of 2013, I'd have had Timothy Bradley listed near the top. But after surviving a war against Ruslan Provodnikov in March 2013, he's largely shed the "boring" label. 

    It's too bad he nearly had to get killed in the ring to earn the amount of respect he deserves. 

    Bradley always fought with a physical style, throwing quick, crisp combinations. He lacks elite punching power and generally avoids getting punched a lot, due to his excellent defense. 

    To me, that kind of profile doesn't translate to "boring." This is he sweet science. I found Bradley's win over Juan Manuel Marquez in October 2013 to be a taut game of physical chess. 

    Manny Pacquiao's victory over Bradley earlier this year allowed the Filipino star to prove just how skilled he is as a boxer. 

6. Devon Alexander

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    Devon Alexander is a classic case of a fighter being termed "boring" because he is technically intelligent and doesn't take unnecessary risks. When Alexander fought Shawn Porter last December or Jesus Soto Karass in June of this year, he was hardly boring. When forced to mix it up, Alexander is willing to do so. 

    But sometimes intelligence dictates caution. When Alexander captured the IBF welterweight belt from Randall Bailey, the only serious risk Alexander faced was getting caught by one of Bailey's monster punches. 

    So Alexander mostly stayed out of position to be hit. He didn't completely avoid trading and he actually demonstrated a decent chin in the fight. But he didn't put himself in any stupid positions against "The Knockout King."

    Sometimes a fighter has to focus on winning first to advance his career. 

5. Carlos Molina

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    IBF junior middleweight champion Carlos Molina is not blessed with great punching power or athleticism. He came up in the sport without the kind of protection that blue-chip prospects receive and has rarely caught a break from the judges.

    In my opinion, he deserved victories over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2005 and 2006 but instead had to settle for a draw and majority-decision loss. 

    Molina is one of the best ring generals in the sport. Few fighters do a better job of controlling tempo and pace. That and his hard-nosed determination have carried him to the championship level. 

    Molina's championship victory over Ishe Smith in September 2013 was less than scintillating, though I'd hardly call it boring. His DQ loss to James Kirkland in March 2012 was an exciting example of a clever fighter finessing an extremely dangerous slugger, up to the point where the referee screwed Molina with a bogus DQ. 

    In my book, an underdog succeeding in boxing is rarely boring. 

4. Bernard Hopkins

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    I'll admit I'm slightly biased in favor of Bernard Hopkins. When you are in your 40s and there's still an athlete who debuted when you were in high school getting it done at the highest level, it's impossible not to cheer for him. 

    Hopkins' intelligent style, sometimes unfairly criticized as "boring," is a major component in his unprecedented longevity. In the brutal and dangerous sport of boxing, he has competed at the highest level for years while minimizing the damage he takes.

    That should be celebrated, not scorned. And Hopkins' KO percentage has only really dipped in the past decade, as he's climbed in weight.

    In his prime at middleweight, "The Executioner" was methodical in taking opponents apart and finishing them. His stoppages of Hall of Famers Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad are classic examples.

    At this point, as he pushes closer and closer to 50, I'm fascinated simply to see the old warrior continue to win.

3. Andre Ward

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    Like other fighters on this list, Andre Ward's reputation with some fans for being "boring" is a result of the super middleweight champion simply being too good. As George Foreman famously said "Boxing is like Jazz, the better it is, the less people appreciate it."

    Since 2011, Ward has cleaned out his division more thoroughly than any other champion in the sport. He's beaten every top fighter at 168 while rarely losing a round.

    That's not "boring." It's domination. But Ward doesn't have monster punching power, and he has too much respect for his health and well-being to take stupid risks trying to force a stoppage.

    If Gennady Golovkin moves up to 168 to face him or if Ward eventually goes to 175 and takes on Sergey Kovalev, I expect either of those smart pressure fighters to force Ward into an exciting fight. If Ward ends up fighting Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., I think he'll have a good chance of giving the legend's son his first stoppage loss.

    Until those fights come along, I'm content to appreciate Ward boxing at a higher level than any other fighter of his generation.   

2. Guillermo Rigondeaux

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    I don't always pay as much attention to social media as I should. So it took me a good week or more in April 2013 to realize that so many people were criticizing Guillermo Rigondeaux's victory over Nonito Donaire as boring. 

    Meanwhile, I had been walking around still amazed by the Cuban's brilliant ring generalship and defensive craft. 

    Perhaps it's a matter of taste. When it comes to sports, I always enjoy superb execution. One of my favorite regular-season baseball games of all time was a pitching duel between Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. 

    During Martinez's great turn-of-the-century run with the Red Sox, I rarely missed one of his starts. And during those years, Martinez rarely made a mistake, which meant his opponents rarely had an opportunity to do a single thing offensively. 

    Rigo's win over the normally dangerous Donaire reminded me of Pedro at his best: pure technical wizardry. To me, that will never be boring.

1. Floyd Mayweather

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    When facing the right opponent, there's nothing boring about Floyd Mayweather. His majority-decision win over Marcos Maidana this year and his 2012 victory over Miguel Cotto were perfectly exciting fights.

    Cotto and Maidana were able to execute a game plan that forced Mayweather to dig in and exchange in places, which is something the pound-for-pound king does as well as anybody.

    Mayweather's recent wins over Robert Guerrero and Saul Alvarez were lacking in a tension. Mayweather established a pattern of domination early in both fights and neither opponent was able to do anything to break that pattern.

    They were still masterful performances. But I'll concede, neither fight resembled Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo. Incidentally, Mayweather's fights with Corrales and Castillo were certainly exciting.

    But what would fans have Mayweather do? Take unnecessary risks to his health and record, just to entertain? Boxing is a sport, and the first commandment of sports is to win.

    Mayweather has done that better than any fighter of his generation.