“This man buries himself with his mouth!” Rod Steiger, The Big Knife
The following computerized rankings are compiled based on an arcane “blabber” to “performance” algorithm. These are the fighters who never shut up, but who rarely seem able to back up their boasts in the ring, either with action or accomplishments. Some of them also excel at post-fight prattle in the form of alibis and denials.
1. Allan Green
Number one with a cork bullet, Green is the kind of windbag who practically begs for public rebuke. After deluging cyberspace with threats, taunts, and trash talk for years, Green got his shot at the Big Time against Andre Ward last week and fought like a man who sleeps with stuffed animals and a night light. With his 24/7 scowl, his penchant for calling other professionals “bitch,” and his sour disposition, you would think Green would step into the ring and put some of his orneriness to good use. Instead, he let Ward all but wrap old terrycloth diapers around him without protest. Of course, after the fight, there was the usual blah, blah, blah, and Green, on the way to the Acme Excuse Factory, was already making promises about what he will do to Mikkel Kessler.
2. Edison Miranda
If not for the fact that he scored a decision over Green, number one on this list, Miranda would own the top spot here lock, stock, and barrel in perpetuity. With the exception of Ricardo Mayorga, no one talks more smack and then follows it up with having his neurons scrambled than Miranda. He toned down his crude act before facing Lucian Bute, but still managed to get knocked into oblivion with a single blow only seconds after showboating in the ring. A third-rate fighter whose big right hand can pole-ax fourth-raters with regularity and send Joe Tessitore into orgasmic raptures, Miranda is exactly the kind of athlete who makes schadenfreude one of the many guilty pleasures of boxing. To his credit, Miranda usually concedes defeat diplomatically, something that cannot be said for most of the blowhards on this list.
3. Kevin Johnson
Johnson is unique among the fighters listed here. Not only did the self-proclaimed “Kingpin” talk a blue streak before his pathetic title bout with Vitali Klitschko last December, but he also continued babbling throughout one of the worst fights in recent memory. His jaw, along with his courage, was particularly active between rounds; in fact, he landed more insults on Klitschko than he did blows. Over 12 stupefying rounds, Johnson, a bit player in his own horror show, connected with FIVE power punches, an average of about one for every seven minutes of fighting. Not long after the bout, Johnson was clueless enough to send out a self-congratulatory press release about his non-performance. Even being a ripoff artist requires some tact, but, apparently, Johnson lacks that quality as well as other character traits required to be an honest prizefighter.
4. David Haye
One of the most offensive woofers in boxing, Haye has hectored the Klitschko brothers relentlessly over the last two years, only to suffer lockjaw when his contractual demands were recently met by Wladimir Klitschko. In an age when crassness is confused with personality, Haye has parlayed his bad taste into paychecks based solely on his talent for invective. How else do you explain why Haye is on the cover of the latest issue of The Ring ? Is it because he has beaten Monte Barrett, Nikolay Valuev, and John Ruiz? Probably not. Haye has made the worst kind of noise in boxing: literal noise. Less Hercules and more Paris of Troy, Haye now appears set to defend his paper title against Audley Harrison in a fight that makes his heavyweight threats ring as hollow as his accomplishments.
5. Tyson Fury
U.K. heavyweight Tyson Fury has fewer than a dozen fights, but does that stop him from bragging, boasting, and berating? A pathological provocateur, Fury even got into an inexplicable Tweet war with a super middleweight, Andre Dirrell, a few months ago. Already the recipient of a gift decision over John McDermott, Fury is the kind of fighter who needs to bark to get attention because, despite his imposing name, he fights like an old charwoman. Those of you not lucky enough to have seen Fury uppercut himself in the face should trawl YouTube in search of it.
6. James Toney
Toney has been a vulgar loudmouth for two decades now, but his performances in the ring over the last few years fall far short of all the smack that dribbles forth from his lips. When he was a vicious, skilled middleweight and a fighting champion, his obnoxious behavior could be stomached. Now, watching him jiggle in the ring and earn bad decisions over the likes of Fres Oquendo is about as palatable as a steady diet of mesquite soup. Unfortunately, two out of every three words he utters is unintelligible (Naturally, this did not stop his promoter, Dan Goosen, from pushing Toney into announcing duties on the Best Damn Fight shows a couple of years ago), so a complete assessment of his oafishness is not possible. This affects his ranking, which would probably be much higher if anyone knew just what exactly he was mumbling half the time. Thankfully, it looks Toney will be speaking in tongues over in the UFC now, sparing the boxing world from the sordid task of having to decipher his gibberish.
7. Paulie Malignaggi
Everyone knows Malignaggi is a motormouth and a showboat. Even so, he can be pretty funny every now and then, and a certain impishness comes through some of his monologues. But he went too far before his fight with Amir Khan, harassing Khan via Tweets, throat-slashing at the weigh-in, and, worst of all, promising to knock Khan out. And what did Malignaggi, who also slipped into logorrhea mode before a wipeout against Ricky Hatton and a thumping via Miguel Cotto, get for all that preposterous talk? A beating so bad that it ended with Steve Smoger kissing his back over and over again and trying to spoon him in the ring.
8. Bernard Hopkins
Rarely is a fighter as accomplished as Hopkins such a nasty grouch. Hopkins has been threatening opponents with hospitalization, maiming, and death seemingly forever, despite the fact that “The Executioner” has failed to score a KO in six years, and that was against a former junior lightweight. Although Hopkins has been nothing but boring for most of the last eight years or so, he still talks as if his fights rival Dempsey-Firpo in intensity. Few fighters are as classless as Hopkins is, and this egotist compounds his vulgarity by confusing jailhouse wisdom with intellect. As proven by some of the financial bombs and ratings disasters Hopkins has partaken in recently, the public is not amused by crude bluster as a segue to dull hugathons.
9. Roy Jones, Jr.
Unlike Bernard Hopkins, Jones actually possesses some wit when he starts rambling. This is proven by comparing the ringside commentating performances of both fighters. Jones is insightful, humorous, and actually pays attention to what happens in the ring. By contrast, Hopkins sounds like a wino lit up on Nighttrain behind the mic. Unfortunately, when Jones is not at ringside working with HBO, little of what he says has any basis in reality. His bombastic pronouncements can work Lyle Fitzsimmons into a lather, a claim not worth boasting about, admittedly, but his carny barker routine is actually sad, since most of it is rooted in delusion. Jones has an excuse for every loss, including one-round knockouts, and is constantly promising a miraculous return to form prior to every disappointment.
10. Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
The master of negative appeal, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has concocted a toxic persona calculated to infuriate just about anyone who cares about sportsmanship, humility, and manners. Still, he is one of the best fighters to step into the ring in the last 25 years, and he makes this list simply because of the contrast between his vituperative personality and his safety-first style in the ring. Mayweather, Jr. simply talks too much for a fighter interested only in earning points wins and boring the public. For Mayweather, the show is too often outside the ring; inside, the razzle dazzle is kept to a minimum.
11. Vic Darchinyan
As cocky as he is wild in the ring, Darchinyan has often crossed the line as far as taste goes. The last time he did that before a major fight was against Joseph Agbeko, who slapped him around for 12 rounds in front of a crowd recently revealed to have been built by 11,000 comp tickets. Fewer than 800 paying customers came out to see the little Armenian braggart. Even so, Darchinyan usually provides action in the ring; he makes this list for incessant yapping and for his heckling of Nonito Donaire over the years. Donaire, who knocked Darchinyan into a quivering wreck in 2007, has been stalked by Darchinyan ever since. But when a rematch was close to happening, Team Darchinyan pulled out of negotiations to pursue a bout with Eric Barcelona. After all that taunting, Darchinyan wound up fighting a stiff instead, and his supposed desire to avenge himself against Donaire no longer seems as important as he pretends it is.
12. Shannon Briggs
Shannon Briggs has been hustling gullible media types for nearly 20 years now. Glib, photogenic, and amusing, Briggs has talked his way into big money fights with the simple gift of gab. With over 30 first round KOs in his career, Briggs has raided methadone clinics all across America to fool the guys who run sadsackboxing.com and earn glowing 1,000 word write-ups dotted with mystifying spelling. After nearly 60 fights, his biggest victory remains a last second KO of middling Sergei Liakhovich for a paper title printed on recycled pulp. Of course, he also scored a decision over George Foreman to claim, absurdly, the linear heavyweight championship of the world in a bout where the judges forged their own Masterpiece Theater of incompetence. Soon Briggs will woof himself into another big fight, and after he loses (Briggs comes up short against a solid opponent 98.5 percent of the time), the only thing he will be able to say is, “Asthma. I have asthma.”