Saturday, August 27, 2011

Career accomplishments of Evander Holyfield

Evander Holyfield is best known for his fights at Heavyweight, but also holds the title of being the best Cruiserweight of all time. Despite the ups and downs in his career, Holyfield has solidified himself as one of the best fighters of the last 30 years.

After being robbed of the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics, Holyfield turned professional that same year and was rushed to a title shot after only 2 years and 11 fights. His title fight was against no powederpuff or sacrificial lamb, it was agaisnt WBA titlist and former Light Heavyweight titlist Dwight Muhammad Qawi, who was considered by many to be the best fighter at 190lbs. Despite having never gone past 8 rounds before, Holyfield went through a 15 round war with Qawi in a fight most boxing fans consider the best Cruiserweight fight of all time. After a grueling and exhausting fight, Holyfield would walk with the close but clear decision victory.

In Holyfield's first title defense he was matched against Henry Tillman, who was rated top 5 in the division. Holyfield would drop Tillman in the second round, and then finish him off with multiple knockdowns in the 7th. Next up was the top 3 rated IBF titlist Ricky Parkey, who had won the title strap from Lee Roy Murphy. Holyfield quickly caught up to Parkey and dropped him with a series of punches in the 3rd round. After three knockdowns, the fight was waved off.

Next up was former WBA champion Ossie Ocasio, who was fresh off a win over Dwight Muhammad Qawi. Ocasio made it to the 11th round, but ultimately succumbed to the relentless attack of Holyfield and was stopped after a series of punches. To close out a productive 1987, Holyfield rematched Qawi, who was still ranked very highly at Cruiserweight. This time around was no one sided war however, but a one sided knockout for the prime Holyfield, who took out a fading Qawi in the 4th after landing a clean counter right hand.

Only one more fight remained at Cruiserweight, against lineal champ and possibly the second best Cruiserweight of all time, Carlos DeLeon, who held the WBC title strap and had successfully defended it multiple times. DeLeon fought well, but Holyfield overwhelmed him with a series of right hands, which eventually forced Mills Lane to stop the fight. Despite having only spent under 2 years at the weight, Holyfield beat such a consistant amount of top competition and had such excellent wins that he is undoubtedly the greatest Cruiserweight of all time.

Holyfield then moved up to the bigger paydays at Heavyweight. After an introduction fight against James Tillis, Holyfield faced off agaisnt former WBC titlist Pinklon Thomas, who had previously just been knocked out by Mike Tyson but was still rated in the top ten of the division. After taking a beating for 7 rounds, Thomas retired in his corner, awarding Holyfield stoppage victory.

Now going after a heavyweight title shot, Holyfield took on the 37-1 Michael Dokes, who was considered a top 5 in the division. Dokes gave Holyfield trouble with his handspeed and skill, but was rocked with a left hand in the 10th round and then finished off against the ropes. Later that year Holyfield would face off against another top 5 rated fighter in Adilson Rodrigues, who had an impressive, but padded, 35-2 record. Adilson started off well, but was rocked but a right uppercut and then finished off with a big right hand in the 2nd, knocking him out.

Holyfield, still waiting for his title shot agaisnt Mike Tyson, faced off against the unranked Alex Stewart and Seamus McDonagh, beating both by stoppage. During this time Tyson was majorly upset by James 'Buster' Douglas in Japan, and Holyfield got his title shot against Douglas in October of 1990. Douglas showed up unprepared and out of shape, and Holyfield knocked Douglas out in the third round with a right hand after countering an uppercut, giving Holyfield the lineal heavyweight title and the WBA, WBC and IBF title straps.

Holyfield's first title defense came against the comebacking 41 year old George Foreman, who was barely top ten ranked but considered a very heavy underdog. Foreman proved to be much more risilient than expected, and absorbed very heavy combinations from Holyfield. In a tougher fight than expected, Holyfield walked away with the 12 round decision. Foreman would shock the world by knocking out Michael Moorer and reclaiming the heavyweight crown at 45 years old, 4 years later.

After another unexpected tough match against unranked Bert Cooper, whom Holyfield knocked out in the 7th in a firefight, Holyfield took on another old legend, former heavyweight champ and ATG Larry Holmes. Holmes was 41 years old, but had just recently been top ten ranked after a dominant victory over Ray Mercer. Holmes gave Holyfield trouble, but Holyfield walked away with the wide 12 round decision.

Holyfield then had his first professional loss when he fought the undefeated Riddick Bowe. In a very tough and painful fight, Holyfield fell short, losing a 12 round decision to Bowe. After regaining confidence against former opponent Alex Stewart, who Holyfield beat by decision, Holyfield reclaimed the heavyweight crown by outboxing and decisioning Bowe in a rematch. Unfortunately, Holyfield would again lose his title against former light heavyweight champ Michael Moorer in a close fight.

After a year layoff, Holyfield would be back in the ring against the tough Ray Mercer, who gave him a good fight but was dropped late and lost a 10 round decision. In Mercer's next fight, he would give Lennox Lewis one of the toughest bouts of his career.

Holyfield would then finish his trilogy against Bowe in 1995. Despite badly hurting and dropping Bowe in the 6th round, Holyfield could not capitalize and was knocked out in the 8th round in a war. Holyfield's career looked nearly over at this point, and he faced off against the comebacking and rising Mike Tyson in 1996. Tyson was heavily favoured to destroy Tyson, but in 1996s fight of the year Holyfield shocked boxing fans by not only beating Tyson, but knocking him out in the 11th round after accumulating damage with his uppercuts.

Unfortunately, a rematch against Tyson resulted in controversy, when Tyson was disqualified for infamously biting off a piece of Holyfield's ear. In another rematch, this time against Michael Moorer, Holyfield avenged his previous loss by dropping Moorer multiple times en route to a corner retirement. Moorer was a former lineal champ and rated top 5 in the division at the time.

Holyfield's career progressively went downhill from this point. After getting a gift draw against Lennox Lewis and a close but clear loss in the rematch, Holyfield went 1-1-1 against John Ruiz in controversial and ugly fights. In Holyfield's last clear victory, he decisioned Hasim Rahman after grotesque swelling occured on Rahman's head because of headbutts, halting the bout after 8 rounds. Rahman had just lost the lineal championship to Lewis in his previous fight, and was considered top 5 in the division.

After Holyfield's next three fights against Chris Byrd, James Toney and Larry Donald, it was clear his career was over, as he suffered losses in all of the bouts, including a TKO loss to former middleweight Toney. Yet 4 years later Holyfield got a shot at Nikolai Valuev, the WBA titlist and top 5 in the division. In an incredibly lackluster fight with little action, Holyfield very arguably deserved the decision over Valuev at 46 years old.

Although Holyfield is still, somehow, still fighting at 48 years old, it is heavily unlikely he will accomplish any more, and its more likely he will just end up a sad story in boxing. But his legacy is already set, and he is one of the toughest, most exciting, and most accomplished fighters in a long time, and the best Cruiserweight since the creation of the weight class.

Notable wins over-
Dwight Muhammad Qawi
Henry Tillman
Ricky Parkey
Ossie Ocasio
Dwight Muhammad Qawi
Carlos DeLeon
Pinklon Thomas
Michael Dokes
Adilson Rodriquez
James 'Buster' Douglas
George Foreman
Larry Holmes
Riddick Bowe
Ray Mercer
Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson
Michael Moorer
John Ruiz
Hasim Rahman
Nikolai Valuev, robbery/very close bout

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Career accomplishments of Sugar Ray Robinson

So often boxing fans and media claim that Robinson was the greatest boxer of all time, but don't often state why. Yet behind all the hype and legend, Robinson's record is full of numerous excellent wins that give substantiality to his 'greatest' claim, along with his outstanding ring performance.

Although most, if not all, boxing fans consider Robinson a career Welterweight or higher, he actually had over 20 wins at 135lbs or lower. His first big win at Lightweight was over Pete Lello, who was one of the best fighters at 135lbs and had unsuccessfully challenged for the Lightweight title the previous year.

The most meaningful of Robinson's wins at 135lbs however was his decision over the frustrating, clever HOF boxer Sammy Angott. Angott was considered the second best Lightweight in the world at the time, but was dropped early and lost a decision to Robinson. Yet only 5 months after losing to Robinson, Angott would win the Lightweight championship with a lopsided win over Lew Jenkins, and even go on to beat the ATG Willie Pep when Pep was 62-0.

Robinson's next big win came over Marty Servo at 140lbs. Servo was 42-0-2, and would become Welterweight champion in 1946 by knocking out Freddie Cochrane.

The win that catapulted Robinson into the top of the Welterweight rankings were his back t back decision wins over the rough and tough HOF brawler Fritzie Zivic. Zivic had just been Welterweight champion the previous year by stopping the ATG Henry Armstrong, but had dropped a close decision to Freddie Cochrane just 3 months before losing to Robinson. Zivic would go the distance in the first fight, but lose by TKO in the 10th in the rematch after being dropped.

Robinson would continue into 1942 with a stoppage win over top ten rated Norman Rubio in the 8th round, as well as decision wins over former opponents Marty Servo and Sammy Angott. After stopping top ten rated Tony Motisi in the first round, Robinson would begin his rivalry over ATG middleweight and future champion Jake LaMotta, winning a ten round decision over LaMotta despite weighing over 12lbs less than LaMotta. Robinson would finish up 1942 with two notable wins over top ten Welterweight Izzy Jannazo.

At the start of 1943 the 40-0 Robinson was handed his first loss in a rematch against LaMotta, where he lost a decision. Yet within 21 days Robinson avenged his loss with a convincing 10 round decision over LaMotta, as well as decisioning top 3 Welterweight Jackie Wilson just 7 days over his win over LaMotta. Robinson closed up 1943 with a decision win over the faded, but still capable and highly rated ATG Henry Armstrong.

Robinson had a slow 1944, where the most notable thing he did was knock out past opponent and still top ten rated Izzy Jannazzu. In 1945 Robinson would fight Jake LaMotta twice more, winning both times by decision, as well as knocking out top 5 rated Jimmy McDaniels in the 2nd round.

In 1946 Robinson finally got a shot for the vacated title against number 1 rated challenger Tommy Bell, and won a 15 round after waiting for 5 years. After winning the title Robinson had a quick victory at Middleweight over top 5 rated Georgie Abrams, while being outweighed by 12lbs. In his first title defense Robinson would knock out top ten rated Jimmy Doyle in the 8th, and followed it up with a mediocre title defense over Chuck Taylor. However, Robinson's next title defense came over Bernard Docusen, who was one of the best 3 Welterweights in the world. Robinson had a rough night, but won a 15 round decision after dropping Docusen in the 9th.

In Robinson's next fight he would face the ATG Welterweight Kid Gavilan in a non-title fight, and won a decision in a close fight. Gavilan would get a rematch in a title shot in 1949, but would again lose by decision after 15 rounds. After his bouts with Gavilan, Robinson would briefly go back up to Middleweight, where he would knock out Steve Belloise, who was considered the 3rd best Middleweight in the world, and decision Robert Villemain, who was considered the 4th best Middleweight in the world.

Robinson would continue to defend his Welterweight title with a win over top ten rated Charley Fusari while still chasing after a middleweight title shot. In 1950 he beat future Middleweight champ and HOF fighter Carl 'Bobo' Olsen by knockout, and again beat top middleweight Villemain.

In 1951 Robinson would get his middleweight title shot against old nemisis Jake LaMotta in their 6th and most brutal final fight, where LaMotta was stopped in the 13th round. LaMotta was the best middleweight in the world after beating Laurent Dauthuille and Tiberio Mitri.

However, Robinson would lose the belt in his first defense against Britain's Randy Turpin. 2 months later, Robinson had regained the title with a nasty 10th round knockout over Turpin. Robinson would defend the middleweight belt twice more, decision Bobo Olson and former faded champ Rocky Graziano before getting a shot against ATG Light Heavyweight Joey Maxim. Robinson was way ahead on the scorecards, but ultimately had to give in to the heat at the end of round 13. The fight was happening in 104 degree, where even the referee collapsed during the fight due to heat exhaustion. Robinson retired after this loss.

3 years later Robinson was back in the ring, and started off 1955 badly with a loss unranked Ralph Jones. Later that year however, Robinson earned himself a title shot in a tough fight the the second best Middleweight in the world Rocky Castellani. Robinson regained the Middleweight title after beating the champion and old foe Bobo Olson with a KO in the 2nd round. Robinson again knocked out Olson in his first title defense, but then lost his title to HOF middleweight Gene Fullmer. Again Robinson regained the title from Fullmer with a dynamite left hook in the 5th round.

Former Welterweight champ Carmen Basilio would then challenge and beat the aging Robinson in 1957s fight of the year, and in another classic Robinson would regain the Middleweight title by decisioning Basilio. However, Robinson would lose the title and finally not regain it against Paul Pender, and then go 0-1-1 in his last fights with Gene Fullmer. Past prime and old, Robinson would not have another notable victory in his career, and finally retired 4 years later after losing to Joey Archer.

Though his career ended badly just like many other ATGs, his legacy had already been established years before. Not many other fighters can claim to have accomplished as much as Sugar Ray Robinson.

Notable wins:
Sammy Angott
Marty Servo
Fritzie Zivic
Fritzie Zivic
Norman Rubio
Marty Servo
Jake LaMotta
Izzy Jannazzo
Izzy Jannazzo
Jackie Wilson
Jake LaMotta
Henry Armstrong
George Costner
Jake LaMotta
Jimmy McDaniels
Jake LaMotta
Tommy Bell
Georgie Abrams
Kid Gavilan
Kid Gavilan
Steve Belloise
Robert Villemain
Charley Fusari
Bobo Olson
Robert Villemain
Jake LaMotta
Randy Turpin
Bobo Olson
Rocky Graziano
Rocky Castellani
Bobo Olson
Bobo Olson
Gene Fullmer
Carmen Basilio

34+ Wins over top opposition.