The Bad Boys of Boxing (part I)

As I see it, there are many ways one can define the word bad. A person can be bad, as in having malicious intent. A person can be bad, as in, “Man, that guy is bad. I’m not messing with him.” A person can be in bad taste because of their buffoonery or braggadocio, or, a person can be bad, for displaying that “Bad Boy” image. Let’s explore some of boxing’s baddest bad boys throughout the twentieth century, and recent history, that, in one way or another, fall into one of these categories.

Earnie Shavers – After their 1980 bout, Randall “Tex” Cobb said of Mr. Shavers, “Earnie Shavers could punch you in the neck and break your ankle.” Both men had fought a memorable war in the ring, but a proud Mr. Shavers, with no quit in him, was past his prime at age 36, and was pummeled, until the bout was called to a halt. At the time, Mr. Cobb was a hungry 24 year old up-and-comer. To this day, Mr. Shavers is known throughout boxing circles, as being the hardest hitting heavyweight of all time. I had the pleasure of making Mr. Shavers acquaintance last summer. He looks as bad as he ever did.

Zab Judah – Seldom do I like to badmouth a boxer, especially a fellow Brooklyn native, but Mr. Judah deserves it, because of his unprofessional and bad behavior. In his bout against Kostya Tszyu, in 2001, Mr. Judah suffered a vicious knockdown after two rounds, and when he was found by referee, Jay Nady, unable to continue, he [Judah] went into a tirade; throwing his corner stool into the center of the ring, and then attacking Mr. Nady to the point where he needed to be restrained by security. Mr. Judah obviously thought he could have continued to fight. I ask you to be the judge. You can view Mr. Judah’s “chicken dance” on www.youtube.com.

Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins – I really don’t care for Mr. Hopkins’ style of boxing. He’s awkward in a way that is difficult to explain. However, this same awkwardness has led to Mr. Hopkins’ success and longevity in the sport. In 2011, Mr. Hopkins defeated Jean Pascal, to become the oldest man, at 46, to win a world championship title. For that, I hold him in very high regard. It’s highly unlikely that his record will be broken in my lifetime. Mr. Hopkins’ accomplishment broke George Foreman’s record. Mr. Foreman was 45 when he regained his world heavyweight title from Michael Moorer.

Ricardo Mayorga – I like to call Mr. Mayorga a human punching bag (not to his face, of course). He’s a brawler, lacking in a lot of fundamentals, and I believe that he truly enjoys getting hit. Aside from his masochistic conduct, he has a penchant for bringing fighters’ wives into the pre-fight hype. Remember Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya, and Mr. Mayorga’s sexual innuendos targeted at their ladies?. Both men didn’t take too kindly to Mr. Mayorga’s comments. It’s likely why they both knocked Mr. Mayorga out, in their respective bouts. I met Mr. Mayorga in Miami, and despite all his ring bravado, he seemed like a pretty pleasant guy. I even encouraged him to stop smoking. I never thought he was a bad guy, but just a bit of a self-promoting clown.

Hector “Macho” Camacho – Mr. Camacho was bad because he was the guy you absolutely loved to hate. He was flamboyant, a loud mouth, a braggart, and he wore a Superman curl on his forehead. I don’t know what planet Mr. Camacho was from, but it certainly wasn’t Krypton. But for all his gregariousness, you had to watch him fight, even if it were to watch him lose. Truth be told, though, Mr. Camacho had fought a lot of boxing’s elite (Edwin “El Chapo” Rosario, Julio Cesar Chavez, Rafael “Bazooka” Limon, Oscar De La Hoya, and the list goes on). A lot of boxing fans called him a runner, but in all fairness, Mr. Camacho was an elusive, stick-and-move boxer with good hand speed, and a decent chin. While he was probably more famous for his ring entrances and his post-fight interviews, than his actual performances in the ring, he did not lack appeal or skill.

Wilfred Benitez – Dubbing himself “The Bible of Boxing” was by no means a misnomer for Mr. Benitez. Having lied about his age, the Spanish Harlem native, started his professional boxing career at the age of 15. By the age of 16, he became a world-ranked boxer, as recognized by the World Boxing Association and the World Boxing Council (WBC). Adding icing to the proverbial cake, Mr. Benitez defeated Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes, in 1976, to become the youngest champion in boxing history, at the tender age of 17. Mr. Benitez accomplished all this while still in high school. Now, that was one bad teen. Sadly, Mr. Benitez now suffers from diabetes and dementia. He receives a $200 monthly stipend from the WBC, and has been assisted by Ring 10 NY, of which I am a proud member. For more information on their work, please visit www.ring10ny.com.

“Iron” Mike Tyson – What list of “Baddees” would be complete without boxings “Baddest Man on the Planet?” Mr. Tyson made this list for three separate reasons; for attacking Lennox Lewis at their press conference, for having said things like, “I try to catch him right on the tip of the nose, because I try to push the bone into the brain. I want to eat your children.”, and lastly, for coming dangerously close to his cannibalistic statement, by taking a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s right ear. The latter is bad in the baddest sense of the word.

To Be Continued in the next edition…

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