Mayweather, Johnson, Leonard: The Ballad Of The "Boring" Fighter

CJ JamesContributor IJune 1, 2010

I get sick of these “Fighter A is not an exciting fighter” boo yaa, cat calls from fans. Like it’s the greatest piece of wit, ever conceived by man.

Let’s get one thing straight, it’s more the simple fact that, if you’re 41-0, and don’t ever look like losing, against any opponent in boxing, then the critics haven’t really got that much to go on.

So of course you get chumps like Roach, trying to create great debates on fighter's styles. He simply doesn’t have much else to hit the guy with.

Mayweather isn’t the first fighter to be called boring. He won’t be the last. It’s the greatest bit of praise any fighter can get in truth.

It just means, you’re probably not going to come close to losing, any time soon. Your “critics” secretly, can’t think of any great hope who is realistically, going to beat you.

Anyone old enough to remember Roy Jones, or Sugar Ray Leonard will see history repeating itself.

The formula is pretty simple.

First of all the world is mesmerized by how easily you beat a tough opponent. Then they start getting bored of it, and decide that the opponents just aren’t up to it.

Jones' honeymoon period was schooling Hopkins, Toney, Malinga, and the best of 160-168.

Many people still consider him the most dominant 160-168 fighter of all time. Me being one of them. He could have fought Marvin Hagler at 160, and won easily.

The closest Roy came to losing at those two weight divisions, was a four round UD win, against Hopkins. A guy who wouldn’t lose again for 12 years after that loss.

To make things interesting, Roy moved to 175, facing guys, who nearly always had huge height, weight and reach advantages.

Any tougher? Dream on.

This is Roy taking it easy at 175. This is the guy ducking guys.

He fought Mike McCallum in his first ever 175 fight. A guy, who had only lost twice in the previous 20 years, and at the time was rated third in the division.

His second fight he took on the WBC champion at the weight.

His third fight, he took on the divisional number two, Virgil Hill.

His fourth fight, he took on WBA champ Lou de Valle in a unification bout.

His seventh fight, he took on IBF champ Reggie Johnson in another unification bout.

If any other fighter had systematically dominated a division, in seven fights, they'd be putting them in the hall of fame, just for that.

You get guys like Joe Calzaghe, who took 10 years to do the same.

When guys get too dominant, they get boring. Fans have nothing to hit them with, as they never come close to losing, so they just use their imagination.

Roy had almost every belt in the division, and basically spent his entire 175 career taking on the highest ranked guys at the weight.

Guys who would trouble other fighters. Hard opponents. But because Roy was constantly schooling them, not good enough.

So just like Mayweather, and Jack Johnson, and Sugar Ray Leonard, they just start coming up with the “great white hope” who they had to beat. Along with cat calls about how boring their styles are.

Jones HAD to face Darius Michelczewski. Why? Errr, as he’s the only guy in the division that he hadn’t already schooled.

Had anyone actually seen Darius Michelczewski fight by any chance? Watch the guy lose to Julio Cesar Gonzalez in 2003—a guy Jones made look like an amateur.

Darius Michelczewski refused to fight outside home-town-decision-ville Germany for his entire career, constantly priced himself out of bouts, and made next to no effort to ever try and get the PFP King, Jones, into the ring. That’s why it never happened.

Leonard. He got the same issues about Marvin Hagler. Even though he’d beaten Duran, Hearns, he hadn’t beaten Hagler, so was obviously ducking him. And while we are at it, he also won a lot, so was by definition boring.

Jack Johnson won so easily, that they came up with a new fighter he was supposedly avoiding, every single month. What’s more, he was universally hated, and labelled boring and arrogant.

Why? He spent most of his career whuppin’ people.

A boxing writer friend of mine, who I won’t name, once said to me something that has stuck in my head ever since.

“You’ll never be loved unless you lose. As soon as a guy loses, they start getting respect. They become human. Fallible. Fans want to watch fights, not knowing what’s going to happen”.

He's totally right. Manny is human. Flesh and bone, risking his ass every three months.

Mayweather's an unbeatable machine. The Terminator. Seemingly taking no risks to his life whatsoever.

Exciting fighters are just guys who go into fights, with a chance of losing. Guys who can gas at any time. Guys who could get knocked out at any time. Guys who can push it too hard, take too much punishment early on, and end up getting knocked out.

Manny Pacquiao would go into a Marquez fight, and as we’ve seen in the past, he’d probably take a heap of punishment, and probably come close to losing.

He’d do the same in a Mosely fight. Heck, even Joshua Clottey managed to look like he could potentially beat the guy.

Roberto Duran was the same. On his day he could beat absolutely anyone. He could also lose to absolutely anyone, if it went wrong.

Duran had the same fanatic love that Pacquiao currently enjoys.

If Manny went into a bout with Margarito, and went out too hard, started to tire, and ended up getting knocked out, I think people would be shocked for all of about 10 minutes.

Then they’d just realise that it has always been possible, and it isn’t that surprising.

Same with Duran.

The skills he has, and the way he fights, he’s just not that dominant. Heck, he could beat anyone, but he isn’t going to do it easily.

If Mayweather even lost five rounds to a fighter the quality of a Margarito, it would be talked about for years. People are still talking about Castillo now.

Mayweather is boring, and generally disliked by the fanatic element of boxing—who tend to hook onto individual fighters, rather than just enjoy the entire sport—as he probably isn’t going to lose to anyone in the near future.

Manny is seen as exciting, as he gets hit a lot, takes punishment, has already lost or got lucky in a lot of fights, and could potentially lose to anyone, if he has a bad day at the office.

As a case study, just look at the love and respect Mayweather got from the mainstream media, for little more than getting a bit sloppy, and taking a Mosely hurlitzer!? What's good about that? Suddenly, the media want to talk the guy up, for his ability to take a shot.

That my friends is what the media and fans love. If you get hit a lot, and come through it, it's a tough opponent.

Fight the same guy, and embarrass him for 12 rounds, and it's some hand picked patsy.

Boring fighters are just dominant fighters.

Exciting fighters are pluckily try-hards. Who don’t have the same talent or skill, but still manage to win.

Mayweather can have a bad day at the office, and he's still going to win pretty easily. Just look at bouts he's won, by a long way, with a torn rotator cuff, or broken hands.......

That's boring. Mayweather could have the worst night of his life, and still win by three rounds.

PS. Jack Johnson looks spookily like Mayweather in pictures, don't you agree? They have the exact same cock-sure grin.
















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