For my second look at the Bad Boys of Boxing, I will be mentioning some boxers together, because together, they have either complemented each other, had certain similarities, or were destined to be linked, in order to make boxing history. As in the previous issue, I will be making the clear distinction between bad, as in evil, and bad, as in they were so good, that there could be no other way to describe them, other than using the word bad.
Sugar Ray Robinson & Sugar Ray Leonard – Although the word sweet would be a better word to describe these two men, there is no denying that they were both, in their own eras, the best and baddest boxing had to offer. Aside from sharing the same name, both men had incredible hand speed, dazzling footwork, and charisma. The only disparity is in their boxing records. While Mr. Leonard fought 37 bouts, Mr. Robinson fought an astonishing 173, before hanging up his gloves for good. Despite the difference in the number of their bouts, both men took on the best boxing had to offer.
Benny “the Ghetto Wizard” Leonard – I had written about Benny Leonard in my very first article, but he is certainly worth mentioning again. Mr. Leonard (no relation to Sugar Ray Leonard) is widely recognized as the founder of the “sweet science”. To borrow a cliché, Mr. Leonard was ahead of his time when it came to combining footwork, amazing defense, and offense, in order to master his craft. The talent displayed by Mr. Leonard made him one of the baddest boxers in three separate decades.
Luis Resto & Antonio Margarito – Both of these boxers will forever be known in boxing history as boxing’s biggest cheaters. The word bad is an understatement to describe these two criminals. Mr. Resto was known for having the padding completely removed from his gloves when he fought Billy Collins, Jr. As a result, Mr. Resto faced criminal charges, jail time, and was rightfully banned from boxing for life. Mr. Margarito was discovered by the Sugar Shane Mosley camp, with the aid of his trainer, Javier Capetillo, attempting to make his hand wraps, into a lethal weapon, in order to gain the advantage in their bout. Mr. Mosley brutally knocked out Mr. Margarito, but sadly, Mr. Margarito was only suspended for one year, instead of suffering the same fate as Mr. Resto. Cheating in boxing is such a deplorable and bad act that demands permanent disbarment, and Mr. Margarito should have been no exception.
“Irish” Micky Ward & Arturo “Thunder” Gatti – The trilogy of bouts between these two superb athletes makes it difficult to mention one boxer without mentioning the other. They will inexorably be linked by these 3 fights. Fighting toe-to-toe for almost every round of each fight was reminiscent of the bouts from the 1950’s, so much so, that HBO, momentarily mimicked the type of television reception that was the standard at that time. These two bad boxers gave us explosive entertainment, and gave fans a new faith in a sport that was once thought as being in decline.
Tommy “the Hitman” Hearns & Marvelous Marvin Hagler – These two great fighters quite possibly gave fight fans the best fight in boxing history; certainly, the best in the twentieth century. Lasting a mere 3 rounds, the ebb and flow of the combat was a true spectacle to behold, and likely satisfied fans more than most fifteen round fights. Going all out from the opening bell, both men gave as good as they got until Mr. Hearns succumbed to a knockout. On another note, Mr. Hearns is to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this year. Mr. Hagler is due to be in attendance, as is Sugar Ray Leonard; undoubtedly, the three baddest middleweights of the 1980’s.
Jack Dempsey “the Mannassa Mauler” – Recognized by most as being one of the best heavyweights in boxing, Mr. Dempsey held his championship from 1919 to 1926. In a controversial bout with Jess Willard (a much larger man and reigning champion), Mr. Dempsey disposed of him three rounds. Mr. Willard’s corner would not allow him to answer the bell for the fourth round. Mr. Willard was knocked down seven times in the first round alone, and was rumored to have suffered a broken jaw, broken ribs, and several broken teeth. The controversy came much later, in 1964, when a former Dempsey employer reported to Sports Illustrated, that Mr. Dempsey had cheated. I am of the opinion that Mr. Dempsey was just one bad heavyweight, with granite fists.
Salvador Sanchez – The boxing world was robbed of potentially great fights when Salvador Sanchez died unexpectedly, in a car crash, at the young age of 23. Having turned professional at the age of 15, Mr. Sanchez was at the pinnacle of his boxing career, amassing an impressive record of 44 wins, with 32 wins by way of knockout. Mr. Sanchez had notable wins against very formidable opponents; Felix Trinidad, Sr., Wilfredo Gomez, Juan Laporte, and Azumah Nelson, among others. Before his death, there were talks of Mr. Sanchez fighting the world lightweight champion, and my favorite boxer of all time, Alexis Arguello. That would have made for one bad ass bout. But the boxing public was denied that bout because of Mr. Sanchez’s early parting.
Larry Holmes – Many will disagree with me, but arguably, Larry Holmes was the best heavyweight to lace up a pair of gloves. Mr. Holmes did not get the credit he deserved, because he came behind the heels of the legendary Muhammad Ali. First serving as Mr. Ali’s sparring partner, Mr. Holmes went on to become one of boxing’s baddest heavyweights. Never known to duck anyone, Mr. Holmes took on the heavyweight division’s best, winning 48 straight bouts; only one short of matching Rocky Marciano’s record. Mr. Holmes was the world heavyweight champion from 1978 to 1985, defending his title 20 times; a feat even Muhammad Ali could not boast. This is not to imply that I do not love Mr. Ali. After all, several of his pictures adorn the walls of my home.
Alexis Arguello & Sugar Shane Mosley – Seeing these two names together will seem incongruous to most, but they do share a commonality. The attribute that connects these two men is that, like the late Mr. Arguello, Mr. Mosley represents the sport of boxing in a way that makes me proud to be one of its biggest fans. Like Mr. Arguello, Mr. Mosley is a dying breed of gentleman boxers. I have never witnessed Mr. Mosley trash talk, bad mouth his opponents, or incessantly complain about a loss, as is so prevalent among his colleagues in the sport. Both men, past and present, let their fists do the talking, and this is what makes them so bad.