Boxing: David Haye and 7 Greatest Fighters to Retire with Less Than 30 Bouts
David Haye (25-1, 23 KOs) plans to unify the heavyweight world titles before retiring on his 31st birthday, October 13, 2011.
To do this, he must vanquish two champions—the dominant and seemingly unbeatable Klitschko brothers.
He faces Wladimir Klitschko on July 2. Should he win, he believes the older Klitschko brother, Vitali, will drop out of his scheduled September 10 fight against Tomasz Adamek to seek revenge against Haye.
Assuming Haye can accomplish the daunting task of defeating both Klitschkos before his planned October retirement, that would improve his record to 27-1, only 28 fights.
Haye would very likely soar near the top of the greatest fighters who never had more than 30 fights.
Until he retires, we won't know. For now, here's a list of fighters who impacted the world with less than 30 fights.
7. Edwin Valero
Professional Record: 27-0, 27 knockouts
Valero is special for a number of reasons. He's the only WBC champion to win every fight by knockout.
He won his first 18 fights by first-round knockout, which was a record at the time.
He became a world champion at super featherweight (130 lbs) and lightweight (135 lbs). His promoter Bob Arum had his eyes set on Valero moving up to possibly take on Manny Pacquiao.
Valero could have been the next great thing in boxing. Instead, he became one of the biggest recent tragedies in boxing.
Valero was arrested April 18, 2010 after his wife was found dead in a hotel in Valencia, Carabobo.
He admitted to the crime under unknown circumstances. A day later, he was found hanging in his prison cell at 1:30 AM.
The death was ruled a suicide, but doctors who examined the body noticed some evidence didn't corroborate a story of suicide.
Whether the death was by suicide or not, his death at age 28 is tragic. He left the ring undefeated and his potential unfulfilled.
6. Carlos Maussa
Professional Record: 20-5, 18 knockouts
Carlos Maussa was a Colombian warrior who defeated his foes with an awkward style. His first notable victory came against undefeated 26-year-old Jeffrey Resto (17-0, 11 KOs).
Maussa was 16-0, making the fight one between two undefeated Hispanic warriors. Maussa easily overcame Resto, earning a sixth-round TKO.
The biggest victory of Maussa's career later came against a prime Vivian Harris (25-1-1, 17 KOs).
Maussa was the underdog, yet dominated the fight. He made ridiculous mocking gestures as the fight continued, further humiliating Harris.
Maussa ended the fight with a seventh-round knockout via left hook, earning him the WBA light-welterweight world title.
Maussa would be KO'd by the likes of an undefeated Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton, paving their rise to superstardom.
Maussa ended his career after suffering a first-round knockout loss to Victor Ortiz at age 36.
5. Ike Ibeabuchi
Professional Record: 20-0, 15 knockouts
Ike Ibeabuchi, or "The President" as he was called by his trainers and entourage, was THE rising star of the heavyweight division in the 1990s after the upset of a young Mike Tyson losing to Buster Douglas.
Ibeabuchi first caught the attention of boxing fans when he went against an undefeated David Tua (27-0, 24 KOs) in July 1997.
Tua was billed "The Next Tyson," while Ibeabuchi had only faced 16 journeyman at that point of his career.
Well, 17 was his lucky number, because The President gave Tua a beating, setting the record for the most punches thrown in a heavyweight fight at 975.
Tua and Ibeabuchi together set the heavyweight record for most punches thrown by two boxers in a bout: 1,730.
In the end, Ibeabuchi won by unanimous decision.
Ibeabuchi was a major contender at this time, but he began to self-destruct his career. He kidnapped his 15-year-old son and slammed his car into a concrete wall outside of Austin, Texas.
His son would never walk normally ever again, while Ibeabuchi was let off with 120 days and a $500,000 settlement.
He continued his dominance against two journeyman and an undefeated Chris Byrd (26-0, 14 KOs).
Byrd never made it out of the fifth round, as the referee waved the fight off thanks to a mean uppercut and a punishing barrage against the ropes—this gave Ibeabuchi a TKO win and the final victory of his career.
Ibeabuchi had developed mental problems. He complained of demons and headaches. No one listened. He attacked one of his sparring partners, injuring their knee ligaments.
One final nail in Ibeabuchi's coffin was more than likely his refusal of various lucrative fight deals.
This was the 1990s and early 2000s. Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao deals were not available at the time. The closest fighter to that type of money was Lennox Lewis.
He was offered $700,000 to face a contender named Jeremy Williams and an undefeated Michael Grant.
To let you know how close Ibeabuchi was to greatness, Michael Grant would lose the following year to Lennox Lewis; a fight he earned by beating Lou Savarese and Andrew Golota.
Had Ibeabuchi just accepted at least the fight with Grant, he might have kept out of trouble long enough to become a household name.
Unfortunately, time away from the ring led to his destruction.
A female escort was sent to his room in July 1999 to "strip and nothing else" but Ibeabuchi wanted more. He was found guilty of rape.
He is still in prison at age 38 and won't be up for parole again until May 2012. By then, he will be 39 years old.
4. James J. Corbett
Professional Record: 11-4-3-3, five knockouts (sources vary)
James J. Corbett marketed himself as "Gentleman Jim Corbett" and used boxing almost more to launch his acting career than anything else.
He fought rarely, but always fought with great defense for the time and a high level of skill.
His only problem was that many of the heavyweight contenders he faced at the time were heavier hitters.
Legendary hard-puncher Bob Fitzsimmons snatched Corbett's world title by 14-round KO.
James J. Jeffries knocked Corbett out in Rounds 23 and 10 of their two fights together, despite being severely outboxed by the more technically sound Corbett until the knockout rounds.
Corbett changed boxing by popularizing a more patient style of striking once his opponent made a mistake.
Though his career was a short one that he abandoned for a more successful career as a vaudeville actor, his skill at being evasive and accurate in the ring left a remarkable impact on the boxing world.
He is credited with developing boxing from merely a slugfest into an art form of wits and reflexes.
3. Jeff Harding
Professional Boxing Record: 23-2, 17 knockouts
The first Aussie to win the world light-heavyweight championship, Harding knew how to make history.
From his grueling classic trilogy against Denis Andries to his all-action style, Harding is an entertaining legend if ever there was one and he needed no more than 25 fights to become one.
He retired before turning 30 after suffering his second and final lost via unanimous decision to future Hall of Famer, Mike "The Body Snatcher" McCallum (46-2-1).
2. Ingemar Johansson
Professional Record: 26-2, 17 knockouts
Ingemar Johansson is simply amazing. The Swedish boxer knocked out much of his European opposition before facing British legend, Henry Cooper.
Cooper fell to "The Hammer of Thor" as Johansson was lovingly referred to by his fans in Round 5, earning Johansson another terrific knockout.
The most legendary notch on Johansson's belt was his trilogy against Floyd Patterson.
Patterson was heavyweight champion in their first meeting on July 26, 1959. Johansson would brutalize Patterson, knocking him down seven times in the third round before the referee finally stepped in to stop the madness.
Johansson was world champion, but not for long. On June 20, 1960, the two met again. This time, Patterson knocked Johansson out in Round 5.
Johansson laid on the canvas five minutes before being helped up on still unsteady legs.
They would rematch again on March 13, 1961. Patterson would again come out on top, drilling Johansson to a sixth-round finish, but not before suffering some early first-round scares at the hands of Thor's Hammer.
Johansson finished his career early when he almost suffered a knockout loss at the hands of journeyman Brian London in 1963.
He was knocked down in the final round, but managed to get up before the bell to win on the scorecards.
After witnessing an article that joked about the occurrence, he retired from professional boxing at age 30.
Had he continued to fight, Sonny Liston would have likely been his next opponent.
People Who Did Not Make My List at All
Before I begin, the following boxers did not do enough to make the list...PERIOD!
Terry Marsh (26-0, 10 KOs): IBF world light welterweight champion. He beat virtually nobody.
Mihai Leu, AKA Michael Loewe (28-0, 10 KOs): WBO world welterweight champion. Again, he didn't fight big enough contenders.
Leo Nolan (27-2, 10 KOs): He beat Lou Savarese...then he did absolutely nothing else worth noting.
Numerous boxers don't move the boxing world very much, which is why having a career that lasts less than 30 fights is very hard to make memorable.
And now....the most effective fighter with under 30 fights is just one click away.
1. James J. Jeffries
Professional Record: 19-1-2-1, 14 knockouts
Jeffries collected vicious victories over many great heavyweights, including two victories a piece over the likes of Bob Fitzsimmons and James J. Corbett.
If anyone knows how to economize their career for greatness in FAR less than 30 fights, it's Jeffries.
Jeffries' domination early in his career led to a world title fight after only 12 victories. One of the ways he rose so quickly was by fighting fighters no one else wanted to.
Black heavyweight contender Peter Jackson was regularly avoided by the likes of famous heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan.
Gentlemn James Corbett earning a draw against the much-avoided Jackson did wonders for his career, but Jeffries knocking Jackson out in three rounds did much more for his own.
His opponent for his first heavyweight world title was legendary heavy-handed Bob Fitzsimmons. He knocked him out in the 11th round.
The world heavyweight champion Jack Finnegan, was knocked out in 55 seconds of the first round, earning Jeffries the quickest knockout in a heavyweight title fight.
Jeffries later battled Corbett in two fights, knocking him out in both. During their first match, Corbett outboxed Jeffries for the first 22 rounds of a scheduled 25-round match.
A rematch against Fitsimmons soon followed and, despite suffering a broken nose and both cheeks being cut to the bone, Jeffries knocked Fitzsimmons unconscious in Round 8.
Jeffries retired undefeated after a career of 19 wins, zero losses, two draws, and one no-contest.
But six years later, the "White Hype" and money promised in "The Fight of the Century" against first black heavyweight world champion Jack Johnson, brought him back.
Jeffries entered the ring weighing 227 lbs, heavier than in previous bouts with Fitzsimmons and Corbett.
Johnson weighs only 208 lbs and dances and avoids Jeffries' worst, and then delivered his best. Jeffries suffered his first and only knockout loss in Round 15.
The loss sent shockwaves throughout the boxing community, resulting in riots and history being made.
Jeffries' lone loss has since overshadowed his career, leaving many to forget the nearly perfect example of what a great heavyweight is supposed to be.
If David Haye wants to go out as a top heavyweight in less than 30 fights, Jeffries is the perfect example of what to strive for.