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How Boxing's Biggest Underachievers Should Turn Their Careers Around

Brian McDonaldContributor IAugust 20, 2014

How Boxing's Biggest Underachievers Should Turn Their Careers Around

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    Ricardo Arduengo/Associated Press

    Maximizing potential.

    That is what this article is about. The boxers featured over the following slides are very talented, but for one reason or another they have left fans wanting to see more from them.

    This isn't a knock against their skill level; in fact, it's just the opposite. These guys possess great skill but don't get the most out of their natural gifts and hard work in the gym.

    That's how I view the word "underachiever" and how I'll attack this article—these talented boxers are capable of doing more than they have so far.

    The reasons for them underachieving are often as different as the boxers themselves. I'll address each specific issue with a proposed solution to fix the perception of them underachieving.

    One man you won't see in this article is in the photo above, Deontay Wilder.

    While Wilder has barely faced opponents with a pulse during the majority of his career, he is about to take a major step up when he faces heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne. Good or bad, that fight will let us know where Wilder really ranks, so I'll hold off on labeling him either way until after that match.

Adrien Broner

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    Why He's Underachieving

    He's fighting another man's fight.

    What I mean by that is he tries to copy and emulate Floyd Mayweather Jr. in every aspect instead of just being himself. It may sound cliche, but he should focus on being the best Adrien Broner he can be instead of having the impossible goal of duplicating everything Mayweather does.

    I'm not talking about his personality, which is a separate issue. I'm talking about his style in the ring.

    Broner attempts to do the shoulder roll and often fights a defensive style that borders on being boring. His style should match his personality, which is flashy and aggressive. When he actually lets his hands go, he's shown to have pretty good offensive skill; it just goes unused in most fights.

     

    How to Fix the Issue

    Team up with a trainer like Freddie Roach or Robert Garcia who teaches and trains fighters how to be more aggressive and win with offense.

    With his athletic ability and muscular build, Broner could be a monster of an offensive fighter if he ever chose to fight in that style. If Broner teamed up with Roach, who recently turned around Miguel Cotto's career, he could potentially transform into a very exciting and dangerous fighter.

    Those would be the two guys I would go to, but basically anyone who coaches an offensive style and won't be a "yes man" to Broner would help. That's 90 percent of his problem in and out of the ring in my estimation.

    He doesn't seem like he's ever been told no or taught to do things in a different way. His ego has tripped him up during the early part of his career, and it's time for a different set of eyes to take control.

Gary Russell Jr.

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Why He's Underachieving

    Gary Russell Jr. has fought cab drivers and construction workers over the large majority of his career. Before a decisive—despite what the blind judges scored—loss to Vasyl Lomachenko in his last fight, Russell's two opponents before that had a combined 20 losses.

    Those fights were his 23rd and 24th as a professional boxer; it was well beyond time to take off the training wheels and let him have a legitimate fight. Maybe if Russell had been tested a couple of times before his fight against Lomachenko, he would have been more prepared and could have performed better.

    Russell had a great amateur record and was the 2011 prospect of the year by many including Ring Magazine and Dan Rafael of ESPN; why has he still only faced one quality opponent now in 2014?

     

    How to Fix the Issue 

    Fight someone with a pulse more often. Simple fix: The quickest way to eliminate the doubters is to beat good opponents. If Russell does that, the critics, including me, won't have anything to say.

    Russell has good speed and good skills as a pure boxer and is sound defensively, so let's see him fight boxers of an equal quality. He's still young, but he has a lot of experience.

    It's time to either sink or swim; get rid of the swim floaties.

Andre Dirrell

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    Tom Hevezi/Associated Press

    Why He's Underachieving

    You and I fight about as often as Andre Dirrell does. Obviously, he had some serious injuries that needed time to heal, so I'm not going to criticize him for taking some time off after the match with Arthur Abraham during the Super Six tournament.

    However, since making his return to the ring, Dirrell has been even less active than Andre Ward, the recent poster boy for inactive boxers and the winner of the Super Six tournament.

    Dirrell took 21 months off before returning to the ring in December of 2012 to face Daryl Cunningham, whom he stopped in the second round. Since that return fight in late 2012, Dirrell has fought just twice with his most recent match taking place just a couple of weeks ago.

    After that match on Friday Night Fights—which he won by fifth-round TKO—Dirrell called out nearly every boxer from the middleweight and super middleweight divisions, including Carl Froch.

    When many fans probably think he's still retired because he only fights once every 13 months, Dirrell has little chance of landing a major fight against Froch, Ward or any other elite fighter. 

     

    How to Fix the Issue

    Here's another simple solution: Dirrell has to get in the ring more often.

    He doesn't have to fight three or four times per year like Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin, but he should at least be competing twice per year. Even if he's fighting soft touches, he needs to stay active and show that he still has a desire to compete.

    If he picks up his schedule and mixes in a few victories against legit opposition, Dirrell could get back into the conversation for big fights.

Tyson Fury

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    JON SUPER/Associated Press

    Why He's Underachieving

    He faces less-than-stellar opposition and backs out of fightsa sin he had previously harshly criticized both David Haye and Dereck Chisora for doing to him.

    His recent opponents have been nothing to brag about—his last four foes have 21 combined losses—and backing out of the fight against Alexander Ustinov really made Tyson Fury seem like a hypocrite.

    I'm sorry his uncle was sick, but unless it was an immediate family member—parents, siblings, child—he should have fought anyway. Everyone handles grief and distractions differently, but after crushing Haye and Chisora for canceling due to injuries, his excuse seemed weak.

     

    How to Fix the Issue

    Walk the walk if you're going to talk the talk.

    I have no problem with him being boisterous, but if he's going to talk as if he's King Kong, then he better back up what his mouth is spewing out.

    In one of his most recent fights against the light-hitting Steve Cunningham, Fury was knocked down in the second round before rallying to win the fight. If you're going to act like the baddest dude in the sport, you need to perform like the baddest dude in the sport.

    Getting knocked down by guys like Cunningham and seemingly ducking Ustinov give off the perception of being all bark with little bite. Like Mike Tyson and many others, if he can start to back up his talk, he could become a huge star.

Juan Diaz

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Why He's Underachieving

    He's had too many soft touches during his comeback campaign after a three-year retirement.

    This one hurts because I'm a big fan of Juan Diaz as a fellow Houstonian, but he needs to step up the competition. Having two easy fights was certainly understandable as he worked himself back into shape and shook off the ring rust, but after that, the caliber of his opponents should have started increasing rapidly.

    Baby Bull's four opponents since coming back to boxing have had a combined 38 losses at the time he fought them. That's not the worst opponent list I've ever seen from a championship-caliber fighter, but there was no reason for him to face a guy with a 16-12 record—Gerardo Robles—in his fourth fight back.

    Diaz is certainly not at Danny Garcia's level at this point, but for all the guff we've given him for fighting Rod Salka—which was well-deserved—who was ranked 74th, Robles was the 154th-ranked fighter at super featherweight by BoxRec.com.

     

    How to Fix the Issue

    It's simple; Diaz has to start fighting better opponents.

    There are interesting fights out there against guys like Jorge Linares, Omar Figueroa and Raymundo Beltran. Those bouts would give him and the boxing public a great indication as to whether or not he can still compete at the highest level.

    Diaz is scheduled to fight again on September 6, but with the fight being less than a month away and no official opponent yet last time I checked, it doesn't appear he'll be stepping up in competition for his fifth fight since coming out of retirement.

     

    Follow me on Twitter for more boxing analysis and round by round scoring of big fights: @sackedbybmac

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