Following along the lines of the two-part series on boxers who I look forward to seeing more of in the new year, I felt it only fitting to look at some of the fighters who have entertained us so well over the years, but whose time may have come. Perhaps not as long a list as it could be, here are some boxers who maybe have, or should have, punched the clock for the last time.
Chris Byrd (215)
I’ve always had a lot of respect for Chris Byrd – the anti-heavyweight. Somewhere around 6’1” and in the neighborhood of 215 pounds, Byrd defies the new standard of super-sized heavyweights. He doesn’t hit hard, he won’t stand and trade one shot at a time. No, Byrd has always been the heavyweight to move and shake, go slap happy on his opponents, and then get out of harm’s way. It has been highly effective against the big plodders but of late Byrd hasn’t been leaving the nest as much, having slowed a bit and getting hit much cleaner than ever before, much more often. While his slow dance with DaVarryl Williamson in his lone bout of 2005 had less action than lawn bowling at a senior’s home due the fact that two are amicable outside the ring, signs started showing when Byrd met Jameel McCline in 2004. The robotic “Big Time” McCline knocked Byrd down in the second round and connected enough to force a split decision at the end of twelve heats. In his day Byrd would have boxed circles around McCline but, claiming he wanted to be more crowd-pleasing, as he was in his prior bout with Andrew Golota, Byrd (39-3-1) fought more flatfooted than ever. More likely is that age is catching up with the Michigan native. Having fought just once in both ’05 and ’06, it certainly looked like a different Byrd who met Wladimir Klitschko in April of last year. Klitschko peppered away at Byrd with pulverizing jabs and thudding right hands on his way to an all too easy TKO 7 victory. Byrd looked every bit his 36 years of age and like a man who maybe should walk away with everything intact.
Roy Jones Jr. (175)
We all never forgot about what Jones Jr. could do in the ring, we just remember him as a much better fighter than he is now, that’s all. Jones’ recent win over Prince Badi Ajamu did little to convince us that Jones is even close to being able to compete at the upper echelon, and did even less to justify a relatively small pay-per-view price. Prior to his single fight in ’06 to the aforementioned Prince, Roy was TKO’d, KO’d and Decisioned by Antonio Tarver (twice) and Glen Johnson. The 38-year-old boxer-puncher has seen better days and a man who used to have speed to burn must recognize that nobody beats Father Time. Supporters may argue that Jones can still compete, and maybe he can, but why bother? He certainly doesn’t need the money, has held all the titles including heavyweight, and the toll extracted if he finds out that his skills have greatly eroded may be a price he pays for the rest of his life outside the ring. I could barely understand Roy Jones Jr. at the best of times during his HBO appearances before, I can only imagine what he may sound like after taking one too many unnecessary knocks in the noggin.
Carlos Bojorquez (160)
This may be a preemptive strike, but I’m not sure if I have seen a fighter age as dramatically from one fight to the next than Carlos Bojorquez. “El Elegante” looked anything but elegant in his last bout against Jose Luis Zertuche back in August. It was a fight where Bojorquez caught everything that Zertuche threw and I was amazed that the Los Mochis, Mexico-born fighter seemed as if he just couldn’t help but get tagged. To his credit, Bojorquez gave back to the tough Zertuche, but it was painful to see Carlos being pounded at the end of the TKO 8 loss. At 34 years of age and with 41 professional fights, Bojorquez is another one of those fighters who gave it all and took it too. Of his nine losses (26-9-6, 22 KO), six were by TKO/KO and often came as the culmination of rounds and rounds of pugilistic abuse.
Artuto Gatti (147)
Talk about ring wars! There isn’t much point in going through the ring resume of the Montreal-born brawler – it seems that most very bout was a war. Gatti’s career can best be summarized by his three fight battle with “Irish” Micky Ward, awesome. Anyone who suggests to me that they aren’t boxing fans should sit through the Gatti-Ward series and I let the boys do their thing. With 48 mostly bloody bouts under his belt, “Thunder” Gatti has given fight fans more excitement than any boxer should be asked to do. Time and time again the former Super Featherweight and Junior Welterweight champion won over fans with his face first aggressive style and kept them with his contagious smile and pleasant demeanor outside the ring. Under the recent tutelage of James “Buddy” McGirt, Gatti extended his career by utilizing more boxing than brawling but the damage had already been done. At 34 and with nothing left to prove to anyone in the sport and business of boxing, Gatti should take the lesson learned in a one-sided TKO 9 loss to Carlos Baldomir and turn the lights out.
Erik Morales (130)
“El Terrible” hasn’t been in a bad fight, and while I have always loved watching him do battle, the Tijuana-born banger looks to be showing the wear and tear of a 14 year career. While Morales boasts an excellent 48-5-0, 34 KO record as a pro, he has now lost 4 of his past 5 bouts. Always one to fight the best, Morales had epic battles with Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquiao but the conclusion to his trilogy with the PacMan was a disappointment. It appears that youth has been served. Despite Morales showing just 30 years on his birth certificate, the stress of squeezing his 5’8” frame down to 121-130 pounds and the subsequent long battles in the ring have left him looking much older and worn. He has always been a solid pro who fought many ring wars, Morales isn’t the type of person to take anything easy, not even if it on his way out.
Finally, I really do not wish to see any more of Diego Corrales or Jose Luis Castillo trying to fit into the 135 pound Lightweight division and failing weight. At least now they seem to have gotten the message. While it was a black eye for the sport when Castillo failed to make weight (again) against Corrales, it was just plain embarrassing when Corrales then struggled, and failed, in his attempt to please the scales when he later met Joel Casamayor. I don’t know what it is, but it seems that back in the day fighters simply used to make weight, it wasn’t a question. Now, with new steps and scheduled pre-fight weigh-ins being implemented to assist athletes, one can only hope that fighters failing to make weight is a thing of the distant past.
Are there any fighters missing on the list of guys who perhaps should hang ‘em up? I’m sure there are more than few.