Boxing: 5 Popular Fighters Whose Careers Diminished After Their First Defeat
Some fighters, like Manny Pacquiao and Bernard Hopkins, have been victims of early defeats in their boxing career, but they have all been able to reestablish themselves in the sport and become legitimate superstars thereafter.
Unfortunately for some great fighters, their first defeat took more than their undefeated records. It somehow seemed to have taken the souls out of these once-great fighters who were never able to shine as they once did under the big lights. Here is a list of five of those fighters.
5. Fernando Vargas
In the year 2000, Vargas faced undefeated heavy hitter Felix Trinidad in Las Vegas, NV. At the time, Vargas had an impressive record of 20-0, with 18 wins by way of knockout.
The much-matured Trinidad proved to be to much for the 23-year-old Vargas, who was knocked down twice in the first round. Although he fought his way back by knocking down Trinidad in the fourth round, Trinidad would eventually stop Vargas in the 12th round with brutal knockdowns.
After this defeat, Vargas would lose to Oscar De La Hoya, lose to Shane Mosley twice and finally retire after his lost to Ricardo Mayorga in 2007.
4. Felix Trinidad
Here the tables were turned on Trinidad, After ruining Fernando Vargas's career in 2000, Trinidad's time came just a year later when he faced 36-year-old veteran Bernard Hopkins. After 12 rounds of domination by Hopkins, Trinidad's father/head trainer threw in the towel after Trinidad was dropped with a monstrous punch by Hopkins.
After this defeat, Trinidad was never the same fighter. Although he had an impressive win against Ricardo Mayorga, he would go on to lose decisively to Winky Wright and eventually retired after losing to Roy Jones Jr. in 2008.
3. Prince Naseem Hamed
Not much needs to be said about Prince Naseem Hamed. In 2001, he was undefeated and one of the most popular fighters around. His ring entrances and showboating inside of the ring made him a fan favorite.
But that same year, he faced his biggest challenge yet in Mexican warrior Marco Antonio Barrera. Hamed was completely outclassed for all 12 rounds and lost clearly.
How bad did his first defeat hurt Hamed? Well, he retired thereafter.
2. Leon Spinks
Leon Spinks had what was probably the best start to a boxing career in the history of the sport. He was a 1974 Olympic Gold Medalist.
Just two years later after turning pro, he made history when he defeated Muhammad Ali in only his eigth pro fight. It was one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, and he was certainly destined to become a star.
Unfortunately, Spinks lost to Muhammad Ali in the rematch just six months later and was never the same fighter again.
He went on to lose a total of 17 fights and only had 26 in total— a very disappointing record for someone with such a great start and potential. Spinks eventually retired in 1995 after losing to unknown Fred Houpe.
1. Meldrick Taylor
Taylor was an 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist at the age of 17, so he was well-admired and on his way to becoming a superstar.
On March 17, 1990, in Las Vegas, he faced off against Julio Cesar Chavez, who at the time had an impressive record of 68-0 and was known as the pound-for-pound king. That fight would become one of the most controversial bouts in boxing history.
In the 12th round, after Taylor had given his all and surprisingly had won most the rounds and was ahead on the scorecards, Chavez cornered him and landed a monstrous right hand that sent Taylor down with only 12 seconds left in the fight, Taylor would gain the courage to stand up, but the referee Richard Steele stopped the bout with just four seconds left.
Most likely, Taylor would have won that fight had the referee let it continue, but the referee maybe saw something up close that we, the audience, didn't. Steele was highly criticized and is mostly remembered by his actions that night.
After this defeat, Taylor was never the same and was ruined as a fighter. He would go on to lose seven more times, including his rematch with Chavez and eventually retired in 2002. By this time, due to all the damage he had received inside the ring, his speech was very slurry and hard to understand.