Ranking the Most Controversial Figures in Boxing Today

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2013

Ranking the Most Controversial Figures in Boxing Today

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    Boxing is a sport that lends itself to controversy.

    Whether it's fighter who has engaged in antisocial or criminal behavior, a fighter who loses when it appears he has won or a fighter who has used shady training methods, a so-called clean fighter can earn a controversial label in the course of a single night.

    In the past, boxing legends like Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Roberto Duran were all labeled as controversial. Here's a look at some of today's most controversial boxers.

7. Timothy Bradley

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    Timothy Bradley is fighting Juan Manuel Marquez in October for the WBO welterweight title in Las Vegas.

    Marquez knocked out Manny Pacquiao in his last fight and is considered one of the top boxers of the era.

    How did Bradley earn a chance to fight Marquez for the title? In his previous two fights, he had controversial decisions that went in his favor over Pacquiao and Ruslan Provodnikov.

    In the fight against Pacquiao, Bradley appeared to take consistent punishment and seemed to lose in convincing fashion. In March, Provodnikov dished out plenty of heavy punches and could have been given the decision.

    In both cases, Bradley came away with victories when he could have easily lost. Despite these controversial calls, he will be fighting for the title even though he may not deserve the opportunity.

6. Juan Manuel Marquez

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    When Juan Manuel Marquez delivered a bomb to the chin of Manny Pacquiao last December, the punch was so powerful that the Filipino was knocked unconscious before he hit the canvas.

    The win was the best moment of Marquez's career. He came into the fight seeking revenge against Pacquiao after going 0-2-1 in three fights against him.

    Marquez, 39, looked muscular and stronger than he had at any point in his professional career. His impressive physique coincided with his association with trainer Angel "Memo" Heredia, who had also been known as Angel Hernandez.

    Heredia sold steroids to Olympic athletes in the past, but he insisted that his training methods with Marquez were clean and above board. Still, why would Marquez put himself in a position to be linked with an admitted steroid dealer?

5. James Kirkland

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    James Kirkland is an accomplished light middleweight fighter who has reeled off a 31-1 record. His quickness and left-handed style have helped him build an impressive record.

    However, while Kirkland is a solid fighter inside the ring, he has been quite troubled outside the ring. Kirkland spent 30 months in prison for an armed robbery conviction and he has also had a weapons conviction.

4. Dereck Chisora

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    British heavyweight Dereck Chisora likes to fight.

    That's a good thing when he's in the ring. However, sometimes he's more than willing to start throwing punches outside the ring. After Chisora fought Vitali Klitschko and lost a unanimous decision in February, 2012, Chisora got into a post-fight brawl with British fighter David Haye.

    Later in 2012, Chisora fought Haye, and while the two men were doing pre-fight publicity, they had to be separated by a chain-link fence. Haye ended up knocking out Chisora.

    Chisora's out-of-the-ring behavior has been categorized as bizarre, and that does not appear likely to change.

3. Bernard Hopkins

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    Some guys just don't know when to quit. That would include Bernard Hopkins, who is still fighting at the age of 48.

    Hopkins won his last fight when he took a unanimous decision over Tavoris Cloud in March at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. However, he lost his prior fight against Chad Dawson and was also involved in a no-decision against Dawson because Hopkins could not continue due to an injury.

    In addition to being controversial because he fights at an advanced age, Hopkins is known for head butting his opponents. While many have been ruled accidental, Hopkins is usually the one who dishes out the butts and does not receive them.

    Dawson has described Hopkins as a "dirty fighter."

2. Manny Pacquiao

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    Manny Pacquiao was widely considered to be one of the best fighters of the last decade.

    A fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. was discussed widely, but that fight never came off. Now it appears that the window of opportunity for that fight has closed.

    While both men are still fighting, Pacquiao has lost his last two matches. He lost a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley in 2012 and then got knocked out by rival Juan Manuel Marquez when he ran into a brutal right-hand punch at the end of the sixth round.

    That loss was quite controversial. While Pacquiao had been knocked down earlier in the fight, he had appeared to take charge when he knocked Marquez down and then continued to dole out consistent punishment. However, he got careless, and Marquez hit him on the button.

    Pacquiao, 34, did not retire after getting KO'd. Instead, he will get back in the ring against rising star Brandon Rios in November. Pacquiao's decision to put himself at risk by continuing his career is controversial.

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    Floyd Mayweather Jr. is not only one of the greatest boxers of the current era, he is one of the greatest of all time.

    He is undefeated, and his skills, hand speed and athleticism give him a significant edge every time he is in the ring.

    However, he is no stranger to controversy. He spent time in prison because of domestic violence. He is known for his exorbitant bets on sporting events. He also got into a dispute with boxing analyst Larry Merchant that nearly degenerated into a post-fight brawl after a knockout over Victor Ortiz in 2011.