Syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell thinks so. In a recent column, he took a hearty swing at today’s athletes and their lack of class and sportsmanship. It was a clean, well-thrown punch, but I’m not sure it scored a knockout.
Sowell wrote that he had been watching old boxing matches on DVD and he noticed there wasn’t a lot of trash talking going on between fighters. No one made obscene gestures or strutted in front of his opponent shaking his fist in the air. No one rode an elephant on his way into the ring.
What he noticed was that boxers from the early ‘30s into the ‘50s all wore regulation boxing trunks, were tattoo free and they did very little showboating. No clown outfits or free advertising on the seat of their trunks.
Of course, one of the fighters he was watching was Joe Louis, which makes his findings a little suspect. It’s hard to get an objective view of the dark ages when you start with a guy like Louis. Next to the Brown Bomber, Miss Manners was a hooligan.
The thing about Louis is, he used to knock guys out, then reach down and help them back to their feet. He‘d dust off their trunks, ask if they were all right and then inquire how their family was. Louis wasn’t just a great fighter, he was a great guy.
Someone once called Louis a “credit to his race.“ Sportswriter Jimmy Cannon overheard the guy and set him straight. “Yeah,” Cannon said. “Louis is a credit to his race -- the human race.“
Along with Louis, Sowell also pointed out the class shown by former heavyweight champ Max Schmeling, who, despite being from Germany and fighting during the rise of the Nazi regime, helped Louis to his feet after knocking him down in their first fight in 1936.
In their rematch two years later in front of a crowd of 80,000 at Yankee Stadium, Schmeling walked over to Louis’ corner to shake his hand before the opening bell. Tell me that didn’t raise a little ruckus back in the Fatherland.
Of course, Louis stopped Schmeling in the first round of their rematch. Being a good sport doesn’t mean you know how to slip a punch.
Louis and Schmeling were the best of the class back then, the cover boys for sportsmanship. But not everyone followed their lead.
Sowell might want to slip in a DVD of Jake LaMotta at work. Or just watch a tape of the movie “Raging Bull.” LaMotta wore regulation trunks, didn’t have a lot of tattoos, and did about as much showboating as a hit man. He didn’t knock you down, then help you up and ask you how your family was. He’d just knock you down again. He was a mean, tough SOB who wasn’t worried about showing class or being polite.
That said, I agree with a lot of what Sowell writes. There was a simplicity about the fight game back then. Fighters usually wore black or white trunks, they seldom taunted their opponent, and they won or lost fights with a certain grace.
Sowell writes: “The Loutish, loudmouth and childish displays that have become all too common today in boxing, as well as in other sports, began in the 1960s, like so many other signs of degeneration.“
I’m not sure it’s all that bad. Sometimes, it’s important to remind ourselves that every generation has good times and bad times, good guys and bad guys. The ‘50s didn’t have a monopoly on good behavior in or out of the ring.
Today, while strutting seems to have replaced walking in the fight game, there are still a lot of fighters out there with the kind of class and sportsmanship Sowell is writing about.
You can start again with the heavyweight division. Say what you want about their abilities, heavyweight champs Vitali and Vladimir Klitschko have always shown sportsmanship inside and outside the ring.
You seldom hear Kelly Pavlik call anyone names. Manny Pacquiao doesn’t trash talk.
If Sowell has the time, he should watch some of our more recent fights. Instead of Louis and Schmeling, he should look for the names Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti.
I believe Mayweather purposely jumped at fighting Pacquiao in order to make it look like he really wanted the fight - knowing inside Pacquiao would never become the subservient fighter and adhere to all of his BS regarding PEDs. It's typical Mayweather. Again, I don't think he fears that he can't beat Pacquiao, it's just that he's not sure enough to take the risk without somehow working the system to favor him inside the ring on fight night. Obviously Floyd found out that he doesn't have nearly the leverage over Pacquiao that he did Juan Manuel Marquez and therefore they'll be no fight between them, at least on March 13th, 2010.
Mayweather has succeeded in making Pacquiao look as if he fears submitting to any and all type of drug test - along with making himself look as if he's trying to get out of the fight and save face at the same time.
This hurts boxing because everybody including non-boxing fans were not only looking forward to seeing Pacquiao-Mayweather but were counting down the days to it. And sadly both fighters come out of this looking bad. It's been talked about and been on and off so much that it's almost refreshing to now know it's been officially canceled.
Here are some closing thoughts on both fighters and their future.
Floyd is a greatly skilled fighter, however for the last time, he's not off the chart fast or skilled when compared to other past greats. His offense is more seize the moment intuition than anything else. His fundamentals and basics are terrific and he's great at making his opponent fight from their weakness. That said he's picked his spots since moving up from lightweight and has smartly chosen to participate in fights where he's held all the leverage, a fact that not even the most avid Mayweather fan can deny with a straight face if they're intellectually honest.
When looking over his record it's the names of the fighters that aren't listed on either side of the column that stands out more than the ones who are there. And that wasn't an accident. There's nothing wrong with a fighter trying to make the most money he can without taking a lot of punishment in turn. However, at some point if he's truly interested in going down as one of the greats he has to step up during his career and Floyd hasn't. Boxing is a business just like the NFL, NBA and MLB - but Mayweather has taken it too far to the extreme and on the wrong side.
At this time it's perfectly clear that Mayweather has no intention to fight Pacquiao in a legitimate fight. Unless he can mess with Pacquiao in some way mentally or physically before the bout it's not happening. With that being the case Floyd should retire with his perfect 40-0 record intact. Because he's so hellbent on protecting his 0 it's obvious he'll not fight an opponent who he doesn't hold all the advantages over in and out of the ring.
Right now in 2010 there's only one fight out there that anyone really cares about seeing Mayweather in - and that's against Pacquiao. But Manny has all the leverage and options and there's no way he'll ever let team Mayweather call the shots. Sure, Mayweather could try and fight Shane Mosley who's crowding 40 but Floyd wouldn't solidify his legacy by winning a decision over Mosley eight years after Vernon Forrest did it twice at the same weight.
With Floyd Mayweather trying to protect his undefeated record this is the perfect time for him to exit boxing since he can no longer be taken seriously as a fighter. Enough with ripping off the boxing public with bouts that everyone knows the result before they put their money out to see it. Goodbye Floyd Mayweather Jr. Seven days after you retire you'll be a week old ghost.
Manny has had a tremendous run winning seven world titles from flyweight to welterweight. He is a physical phenom. He throws hard punches with shocking power with both hands from every angle imaginable. He has a first tier chin and he never tires. He's also shown that he's willing to fight the best out there and is a certified all-time great.
As far as him taking any kind of HGH/PED no one knows for sure. He doesn't exhibit any outwardly characteristic of an athlete or fighter who's juicing. The Mayweather faction has put it out there so much that some are starting to believe it. Personally, I happen to believe that Pacquiao shouldn't submit to any drug test he's not required to take, but I realize there are differing opinions about this.
I can see the argument stating Pacquiao should agree to all kinds of testing just for the fight to be made. But on the other hand I hate seeing Mayweather call the shots and dictate the terms of the fight when his accusations right now are completely unfounded and just a form of diversion to hold up the fight. What's even more of a joke is there's never been a fighter who has been aided by using steroids or HGH. In fact it's been the opposite.
And if Pacquiao's fighting ability has been enhanced by some illegal substance - he's really making history because no other fighters have benefited by them including other Philippine fighters. And the fact that they've been able to keep it a secret so long is more impressive than what he's accomplished in the ring. See how far you have to go in order to make the case he's doing something under-handed? You better believe if there was some magic drug or vitamin out there that aided a fighters' ability in the ring to the extent Team Mayweather claims is the case with Pacquiao- everybody would know of it including them.
My problem with Pacquiao is his willingness to compile titles on a one fight and done basis. It's almost as if Mayweather has rubbed off on him in that regard. Then again Floyd learned how to mickey the system from Bob Arum and Manny's now learning it from the man who admits he was lying yesterday but is telling the truth today.
Unless you're a bigger fan of Manny Pacquiao than you are a boxing fan (and there's a plethora who fall into that category) is there really any doubt about whether he can and will beat another fighter (Yuri Foreman) promoted by Arum to pick up another title in a catch-weight bout? There isn't in my mind. Perhaps after he picks up his ninth title by bringing Kelly Pavlik down to 154 he can seek his tenth by bringing Andre Ward down to 158. Why stop there? Might as well lure Chad Dawson down to 162 and claim the light heavyweight title while he's at it.
I can't speak for anyone else - but I'm tired of catch-weight bouts and gimmicks. Pacquiao has done everything that can be asked of a fighter. Despite not liking the fact that he won the WBO welterweight title against Miguel Cotto at 145, I'll give him his due and have to believe he would've won the fight against Cotto at 147. But enough is enough.
Too much is placed on fighters winning titles in different weight divisions on the scale. Pacquiao's legacy would be much better enhanced if he defended the welterweight title against a few legitimate welterweights like the Mosley-Berto winner and Joshua Clottey without bringing them down to 145. Being that he won his first title at flyweight would make defending the welterweight title against the best available in the division an off the chart accomplishment for him.
I never believed Mayweather would fight Pacquiao without trying to win the fight first outside the ring - and that looks to be the case. Now that Pacquiao knows it he should move on and fight the best there is at 147 and clean out the division before looking to bring another title holder down in weight so he can claim an eighth title. Although I doubt that's what he'll do because the market and the money will be in him going for that eighth title.
Then again we live in a world where sizzle always wins out over substance.
"First and foremost, not only do I want to fight Manny Pacquiao, I want to whip his punk ass.
"Before the mediation, my team proposed a 14-day, no blood testing window leading up to the fight. But it was rejected. I am still proposing the 14-day window but he is still unwilling to agree to it, even though this is obviously a fair compromise on my part as I wanted the testing to be up until the fight and he wanted a 30-day cut-off. The truth is he just doesn't want to take the tests.
"In my opinion it is Manny Pacquiao and his team who are denying the people a chance to see the biggest fight ever. I know the people will see through their smokescreens and lies. I am ready to fight and sign the contract. Manny needs to stop making his excuses, step up and fight."
MEDIATOR RELEASE Judge Daniel Weinstein today issued an order to correct the false record that has been created by the recent statements from Top Rank and Manny Pacquiao's representatives concerning what occurred at the mediation. The full text of the Judge's statement is as follows: > Mediator's Corrective Order Re: Mayweather-Pacquiao Mediation
The Mediator finds:
1. Various articles have appeared in the press purporting to characterize the substance and outcome of the Mayweather-Pacquiao mediation and the negotiations between the parties. Many of the reports are incorrect.
2. The mediation was a confidential proceeding. Any comments to the press or public by participants in the mediation purporting to report the substance or details of the mediation are violations of the strict confidentiality to which the parties and their representatives agreed and which they authorized the Mediator to enforce.
3. The parties and their representatives authorized that, if misinformation was disclosed to the press by either side, the Mediator would correct any erroneous information.
The Mediator corrects the erroneous reports to the press as follows:
a. Both parties participated in the mediation in good faith. Both parties participated in many hours of negotiation, with a number of proposals issued by each side and carefully considered by the parties and their representatives.
b. The Mediator himself did not formulate, recommend or issue a Mediator's Proposal. The Mediator did not make an evaluation or finding that any one of the many proposals considered by the parties was the correct protocol.
c. Any attempt to characterize the mediation process as an acceptance or rejection by any of the parties of a mediator's or an arbiter's proposal or of any specific proposal is false.
d. In the end, the parties could not agree on a testing protocol acceptable to all.
"It's a real honor that the greatest pound for pound fighter in the world doesn't want to fight me," the 29-year-old Foreman (28-0) said, "and apart from winning the WBA junior middleweight championship it's the greatest honor of my career."
Team Foreman PR director Dovid Efune confirmed to TSS that Foreman is out of the Pacquiao sweepstakes for now. He has an inkling that while Manny was game for Foreman, trainer Freddie Roach and advisor Michael Koncz think Foreman is too risky a foe, and that a fourth fight against a diminished Juan Manuel Marquez is a safer, easier bet.
"We would've liked it to work out, but everything God does is for the best," he said.
TSS U, who do you think Manny should take on next, before he leaps once again into the political fray full-on?
Even before his father and dearest friend, Miguel, Sr., died unexpectedly last weekend from an apparent asthma attack that led to a breathing problem that took his life at 57, Cotto had to be wondering about many things. He had to be wondering how much more punishment he can take after absorbing terrible beatings at the hands of first Antonio Margarito and then Manny Pacquiao.
He had to be wondering how much of himself was left behind in the ring those two nights, as he absorbed savage beatings until he could take no more. Surely he had to wonder if he would ever again be the fighter he once was, the recognized king of the welterweight division and one of the half dozen most feared fighters in the world.
But for Cotto, his wonderings had to be far worse than that in light of the odd turn the negotiations between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. have taken. Here stand Mayweather’s promoters and advisors – Oscar De La Hoya, Al Hayman, Richard Schaefer and Leonard Ellerbee – all insisting Pacquiao submit to random drug testing for performance enhancing drugs for the richest fight in boxing history to go forward and there stands Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, doing all he can to help Pacquiao make such testing useless.
What must Cotto be thinking as he mourns the passing of his father in Puerto Rico?
Here is Arum, who so loudly defended Margarito after he was caught wearing tampered hand wraps and a knuckle pad in his locker room the night he was to fight Shane Mosley. This is the same Margarito who gave Cotto the worst beating of his life not long before that fight with Mosley, a beating Cotto now believes was suspect under the quite reasonable assumption that if Margarito and his trainer were loading his hand wraps it didn’t start against Mosley.
This is the same Arum who has steadfastly stood with Pacquiao as he has repeatedly refused to accept any kind of blood test that might actually be effective even as fighters like Kermit Cintron and Paulie Malignaggi, along with Mayweather’s father, insist there’s something funny about how heavy-handed Pacquiao has become even though he has never tested positive for anything.
This is also the same Arum who promotes Cotto while defending Margarito. The same Arum who promotes Cotto while defending Pacquiao. The same Arum who has suggested the comeback fight for Cotto should be a rematch with Margarito as soon as Margarito’s suspension for wearing those plasterized handwraps is lifted.
This is Cotto’s promoter? Conflicted, shall we say?
In fairness, Arum nurtured Cotto from the time he turned professional, promoting him deftly enough to make him a star in Puerto Rico and New York while leading him through the often troubled waters of prize fighting. He helped get him into position to win world titles and make millions of dollars. He helped get him on HBO and in some of the biggest fights. Yet when issues were raised about tampered hand wraps and Cotto wondered if he had been a victim of them, there was Arum hollering that Margarito was being railroaded.
Now with Pacquiao sitting under a cloud of his own making by refusing to agree to reasonably effective random blood tests for PEDs and blood doping (professional athletes long ago lost the presumption of innocence when it comes to PEDs like steroids and HGH because when is the last time they didn’t deny it right up to the moment they got busted?), here is Cotto’s promoter again hollering that a grave injustice has been done to Pacquiao.
Well, what if one has been done to Cotto? Or maybe two? Cotto will never really know for sure in either case. Only Margarito and Pacquiao know what they were doing, or not doing, going into their fights with Cotto. Cotto doesn’t know and neither does Arum, although the former wouldn’t be human if he didn’t have his suspicions.
What doubts he must be wrestling with today about his past and his future in boxing as he sits in his grief over the loss of his father. To whom does he turn? Where does Miguel Cotto go now? Not even he probably knows.
He has asked the public to give his family time to heal from the passing of his father, the man who started him in boxing and in life, and he deserves that. Yet you wonder, as a judge sits trying to mediate the mess Pacquiao, Arum, Mayweather and Golden Boy Promotions have made of the biggest fight of the New Millenium, what Miguel Cotto must be thinking. Surely one thing is this – who looked out for him?
Give it up! Who were the most entertaining, informative, erudite TSS posters of 2009? Fire awya with your top 10, top 20, and poster of the year! Who is on the upswing? Who is MIA? Rookie of the year? Weigh in on TSS's secret weapon--you guys!
Yup, FNF is back for another go, kicking off Friday on ESPN2. This is the 12th season for the franchise, and the new cycle kicks off with a Roman Karmazin/Dionisio Miranda middleweight scrap from Glendale, CA. The 37-year-old ex IBF junior middleweight champ is looking to get back into the title shot picture, and will be opposed by a 27-year-old Colombian bomber, Miranda (20-4-2, 18 KOs). The Russian will be favored, as he's on a three fight winning streak, and Miranda was dropped and stopped by Giovanni Lorenzo in February, before rebounding with a June TKO win over a 2-19 foe. The winner will receive a mandatory title shot against IBF titlist Sebastian Sylvester of Germany.
Now, I'm unafraid to admit that I welcome FNF with open arms; at my age, Fridays are no longer a day to be celebrated with wine, women and song. Tuning in to Teddy's rants against soft commissions and mismatches, hearing Tess's boundless enthusiasm, soaking up Brian Kenny's keen insights and smoothly delivered recaps of the sports' ups and downs and periodic clashes with Floyd Mayweather is an integral part of being a true-blue fight fan. That said, if you'll recall a few years back things looked pretty bleak for FNF. The sport's fanbase was aging, advertisers shunned the sweet science, and it looked like the budget for boxing at ESPN might get reduced to rubble. But here we are in 2010, and FNF will unfurl 29 boxing cards in 2010 on Fridays. Yes, the sport keeps on rolling, despite being relegated to a deathbed regularly, and even seems to be on an uptick, with a transcendent megafight to be announced any day now.
TSS chatted for a spell with ESPN's Doug Loughery, director of programming and acquisitions, who oversees the company's boxing. (Note of disclosure: I do work for Disney/ESPN.)
Loughery said this year’s studio portion of the telecast will feature a rotating quartet of analysts: Bernard Hopkins, ESPN.com columnist Dan Rafael, Bernardo Osuna and BJ Flores. Brian Kenny will primarily serve as host from the studio. Tess and Teddy will be ringside calling the action. The kickoff time will float around, from between 8:30 to 10:30, so act accordingly with your DVR.
Loughery sounded pumped about the new season, and mentioned that all the action will be presented in high def.
"Boxing's one of those sports where fans can benefit from HD, they can see the sweat, blood and spit," he said.
Loughery was refreshingly BS free in our chat. He pegged the FNF product as being a "developmental place" for boxers. "They come on ESPN and take a step to where they can make more money in other places," he said.
Speaking as a fan, I asked Loughery if there might be an uptick in the budget, so we fans could see bigger names in more meaningful bouts.
"I'm a realist," he said, and then admitted that an aging/aged fanbase, and lack of advertising enthusiasm does limit somewhat the company's involvement in boxing. Past reports have pegged the per show budget in the $30,000 range, and while Loughery wouldn't confirm an exact figure, he said that was in the right ballpark for this season as well.
So, does Loughery see any upward creep in the age of the fans, and the overall popularity of pugilism?
"Yes, and remember five or six years ago, the whole property was on the verge of going away. There was significant belt tightening. But we've got a group of promoters and boxers who understand the situation, understand there isn't a whole lot of money out there. This is a place to grow fighters, and you may take a short term loss to make a long term gain."
Here's a rundown of some of the upcoming weeks of action. As always, bouts are subject to change.
FRI 1/15/10 9:00 PM Adailton DeJesus (24-4) vs. Juan Carlos Burgos (23-0) Demetrius Andrade (8-0) vs. Frankie Santos (17-8)
FRI 1/29/10 10:00 PM Jesse Brinkley (34-5) vs. Curtis Stevens (21-2) Raymond Serrano Jr. (11-0) vs. Ron Warrior Jr. (13-2)
FRI 2/5/10 8:30 PM Joey Hernandez (15-0) vs. Ed Paredes (23-3) Guillermo Rigondeaux (4-0) vs. Cuauhtemoc Vargas (15-2)
FRI 2/12/10 10:00 PM Ji-Hoon Kim (19-5) vs. Tyrone Harris (24-5)
FRI 2/19/10 9:00 PM Shawn Porter (12-0) vs. Russell Jordan (15-6)
FRI 2/26/10 9:00 PM Antonio Escalante (22-2) vs. Miguel Roman (28-6)
In a continuation of a theme from last year, Loughery hopes to see hot crowds, in jumpin' venues; that benefits promoters, because they will take in more revenue from tickets, and the producers, because channel flippers are more likely to stay stuck to a fight taking place in front of jazzed rooters. "I hear from promoters, 'I lose money on shows,' I understand them," he said. "So we put our best foot forward with hot crowds in an arena.
Looking further ahead, Loughery is pumped for 2011, when one or two cards will be shown in 3D. ESPN 3D will showcase a minimum of 85 live sporting events during its first year, beginning June 11 with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match. Viewers will need to pick up special glasses. "I think this is something that can move boxing," he said. "I don't think there's any other sport you can get closer to than boxing.
Other events to be produced in 3D include the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, college basketball and football contests, up to 25 World Cup matches and the Summer X Games.
ESPN snapped up some events and put them on ESPN Classic last season; will this occur in 2010?
Yes, and no, Loughery said. Classic will be concentrating on old school material, so if and when ESPN scoops up a bout, you'll be more likely to see it on ESPN360.com. They almost nabbed the Dec. 11 Jean Pascal/Adrian Diaconu rematch but that fell out because of a technical issue.
In a closed door meeting between White and Toney with only four other people including myself and videographer Don Avila present on Saturday night, the two representatives of the largest fight worlds hashed out early details to see if a fight between a noted pro boxer and MMA fighter is sensible.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it made sense,” said White. “There are a lot of guys out there from boxing that call me but it never made sense. You’re a guy I respect.”
Toney, a former middleweight, super middleweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight champion, has spent the last 10 years chasing the Klitschko brothers to no avail.
“It’s all you reporter’s fault,” said Toney. “You keep saying how great these guys are and how bad they are. They’ve been avoiding me for years. They’re scared.”
It’s Toney’s willingness to fight anybody at any time that intrigues White, who has always abhorred most of professional boxing’s penchant for not making matches that make sense.
“You’re a mean, nasty, f-----g dude. I’ve been a James Toney fan for a long time. No BS,” said White who cleared out his personnel from UFC’s make-shift office below the MGM Garden Arena to have the impromptu meeting late Saturday night. “Yes I’m interested. I’m interested in doing this and I’ve been talking to my partner Lorenzo (Fertitta) about it and we’re both interested in it. The hard part is I’m the one always talking shit about people who put together a freak show.”
What UFC’s mastermind means is that fights with boxers versus MMA fighters have been put on in the past. In those fights the stark differences in fighting rules and styles always made for mismatches. Plus, those boxers were not the quality of a James Toney.
White said that he’s been asked by many professional boxers to fight in UFC, including Evander Holyfield.
“Dude, when I was growing up, that dude’s (Holyfield) poster was on my wall,” White told Toney.
Several key points were asked by White including whether Toney has take down defense, has ever been kicked or knows how to check a kick, and if he has ever wrestled?
“Trust me. I would never do something that would make me look bad. That’s rule number one,” said Toney to White. “They call me the Dark Emperor because I rule everything that I do.”
White said he does not want a mismatch and seeks to find out more about Toney’s MMA abilities. But based on what the boxing champion said, it looks like a fight will proceed pitting the sure Hall of Fame boxer against one of the UFC heavyweights.
“I just want to make sure you have the skills. But I’m not so blinded by MMA. I know you can walk in there with one single punch and this fight will be over,” said White. “But I got to know that you have the basic skills.”
Toney promises to surprise White and MMA fans with his other fighting abilities.
“I want to fight your best boy. You ain’t scared now? If you’re scared we’ll walk up out of here and still be friends,” joked Toney.
White said he will begin gearing up the UFC machine including preparations for countdown shows and a further look at Toney’s fighting prowess inside the Octagon.
“I respect James Toney and I don’t know anybody that doesn’t know what a bad MF James Toney is,” said White. “He’s always had the mystique about him. He’ll fight anyone at any time. He’s a bad MF.”
The two massive fight worlds will probably collide in late spring.
“Let’s see how we can make this thing happen,” said White.
Nuts and guts will take a fighter so far, but it's nowhere near enough to make it to the top. What happens when the fighter with toughness and heart meets a fighter with toughness, heart, technique and skill? What most miss is that skilled fighters are just as tough as the "Rocky Balboa" types, they just don't wear it on their shoulder. Because a truly world class fighter usually wins with his technique and skill. His toughness and heart is usually only challenged when he's confronted by a fighter as good as him, then it comes down to nuts and guts and stamina.
Ray Mancini's heart and toughness got him past Arturo Frias and Deuk Koo Kim, but only held up for about 10 rounds versus Alexis Arguello and Livingstone Bramble. Ron Stander's toughness was something that elevated him leading up to his title shot versus Joe Frazier. The difference in the fight was Joe was every bit as tough as Ron, only he could fight his ass off.
Is it possible to be tougher than George Chuvalo or Randall "Tex" Cobb? Yep. If you're Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes - and are world class skilled and tough. Vito Antuofermo and Mustafa Hamsho were as tough as a fighter could be. However, they found while fighting Marvin Hagler that he could really fight. Oh, he was also as tough as they were.
Toughness and heart are a foundation for all fighters. If a fighter has neither, he'll never make it at any level in amateur or professional boxing in most cases.
When a fighters' heart and toughness are his calling card that means there's not a whole lot else to say about him. What's also a red flag is when how hard a fighter hits is his calling card. All fighters can hit up to a certain level. The problem is the greatest punchers in boxing history have never knocked out everyone they fought. Nobody who knows what they're talking about can question the authenticity of Mike Tyson's two handed power. What happened when he didn't score an early round KO? He either lost or struggled to win. When that big punch landed and his opponent said, "Now what?" Tyson was like, "Now what, what?"
What most often miss is there are some four round pros who are tougher mentally and physically than superstars and greats like Mike Tyson and Roy Jones. They're just not as skilled nor can they fight at the world class level. And the same applies to fighters who were just below being considered outstanding.
If I asked a group of fans or writers who was tougher, John Ruiz or Mike Tyson, or Tommy Morrison and Tyson, most would laugh and think it was a stupid question and that it was a no brainer - retorting back that Tyson was tougher than Ruiz and Morrison. However, they'd be wrong.
If you need proof, just look at how Tyson came undone when he was challenged and faced adversity. He never came back to win a fight he was either down in or was losing. Once he saw he couldn't win he looked for a way out or stopped fighting. On the other hand Ruiz suffered one of the most devastating defeats in boxing history at the hands of David Tua, yet never showed trepidation in the ring in his subsequent fights after that. Words aren't enough of a testament as to what that says about Ruiz's toughness and character.
The same thing applies to Tommy Morrison. Everybody remembers the frightening way in which Ray Mercer destroyed him, and like Ruiz, Tommy never fought glove-shy or as if he didn't want to get hit in his fights after Mercer (not even against Foreman - he smartly moved away and boxed George). Something Roy Jones can't say after he was knocked out by Antonio Tarver in their rematch. After getting stopped by Tarver, Roy wouldn't let his hands go against Glen Johnson in his next bout fearing he'd open himself up to getting caught with something big, as he eventually did and was counted out.
When Roy met Tarver in their rubber match he didn't fight, he did all he could to keep Tarver from knocking him out again. It just so happened that Tarver wasn't interested in stopping Jones and was content being the bully during the fight knowing every time he growled Roy would back off. After the fight Jones bragged about being the second best light heavyweight in the world and not getting knocked out. Which goes to show just how far Roy fell psychologically from getting whacked on the chin with one over-hand left from Tarver.
On the flip side, Jose Luis Castillo (not necessarily a great fighter) was stopped by the late Diego Corrales in the 10th round of their first bout in a devastating fashion. But his confidence and psyche wasn't shook and he had no reservation whatsoever going after Corrales in the rematch and won by stoppage.
All fighters are tough, but toughness isn't enough to make it to the top in professional boxing. And punching power isn't the be-all end-all because there's never been a fighter who has knocked out or stopped every opponent they faced. You better know how to fight even at the prelim and four round level.
Nuts and nuts will take a fighter further than anything else, but it's not enough. It requires nuts/guts and skill along with a fighting aptitude and boxing IQ.