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The Sad Case of the Plausible Loser

BY Michael Woods ON November 11, 2008
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Would I be stepping out of line, and breaking the “magician’s code” of the fightwriting sphere if I said that too often, we keyboard tappers overplay an emphasis on the “crossroads” nature of about?

I don’t think it’s done consciously, typically, but so often you’ll read an analysis on an upcoming scrap, and you’ll be told that the ramifications for the loser, especially, are considerable.

One thing about boxing is, a loser can sometimes come out of a fight with a bigger upside than a winner. Managers and promoters are always searching for that perfect patsy, that foe who can go rounds, be active, crumble on cue…generally, they are always happy to scoop up the services of a Plausible Loser.

The prototype Plausible Loser has a fairly glittering record, but one that is often built on a foundation of skeletons of lay-down artists on the way up, and a heap of last generation’s Plausible Losers during move from prospect- into contenderhood. Then, the ace Plausible Loser will ideally have a title win or two to brag about, even if the organization that bestowed the belt was a shell company put together in a barroom and incorporated in the Bahamas. The sterling plausible loser will have fought some megastars, and not embarassed himself in those outings. Ideally, on one occasion at least, he performed at a level high above his norm, and can thus coast in the wake of that triumph to his twilight years.

It may be unkind to suggest some of today’s pugilists who fit the definition of the Plausible Loser. But if a need to wallow in kind and gentle vibes is a must for someone, they are quite likely not plying their trade as a prizefighter, so let’s offer a couple of examples of the Plausible Loser. Mind you, the term when used out of context comes off as harsher than it is. The Plausible Loser must be afforded a level of respect, because they are engaged in a potentially fatal trade, and excess snarkiness directed to them should be avoided.

Sad to say, Evander Holyfield has emerged as a Plausible Loser in recent years. His services can be secured for a reasonable fee—which is another key trait that makes a PL that much more popular with the matchmakers and promoters—and his past history (a title at crusier, four titles at heavy) makes him sellable to consumers, especially fringe fight fans who best remember Golden Age era Holyfield. When did he slide from viable contender to Plausible Loser? Probably seven or so years ago; but that span of time isn’t a glaring deterrent toward the Plausible Loser getting meaningful money bouts. As long as PL shows up at the weigh in with a plausibly athletic physique, and he doesn’t get too much leather shoved down his throat in a bout, and he can pass his MRIs, the Plausible Loser can continue on the sad path to fights he has little to no shot at winning, but are his sole avenue to making the kind of money he got used to making back in better days.

TSS Universe, feel free to discuss the concept of the Plausible Loser, suggest the consummate Plausible Loser of All-Time, and debate contemporary fighters who may or may not fit the bill: here’s a quick hit list of Plausible Losers, or fighters who are on the cusp of Plausible Loserdom: Hasim Rahman, Andrew Golota, O’Neill Bell, Ricardo Mayorga, Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, Kermit Cintron…And who would you suggest needs to be booted off the Plausible Loser roll, and relegated to the Sub-Plausible Loser pile? Kassim Ouma? Steve Forbes?

Let ‘er rip!

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