This list is in no particular order and every one of these guys was a helluva a fighter, but in most cases the myths of these fighters outweigh the actual accomplishments.
Let me start off by saying I loved the way Pryor fought but I am so tired of hearing how Leonard, Hearns, Duran, and Benitez were afraid of him! Pryor was a crude brawler who could box a bit but never went into a fight with a game plan. He would swarm you and impose his will on you. The problem with that is trying to impose your will on a Leonard, Hearns, etc. is akin to trying to run through a brick wall–it’s just not going to happen. His best three wins were against legends, as he won the 140lb title against Antonio Cervantes and he twice knocked out Alexis Arguello. Those are two impressive names, but when you look at it Cervantes was over the hill and Arguello was not big enough to fight Pryor at 140.
By the way, one of the biggest myths ever is that Sugar Ray Leonard ducked Aaron Pryor–it is just not true! Leonard fought Duran, Benitez, and Hearns, so there is no way he was afraid of Pryor. Pryor-Leonard would have been a great fight for a few rounds and then Leonard would have adjusted and destroyed Pryor because again, Pryor never had a game plan, much less a backup plan. Hearns was too long and strong for Pryor in this case. Hearns was a raw fighter in 1976, but in 1982 he is just too good for Pryor. Go watch “The Hawk” struggle with a poor man’s stablemate in Dujuan Johnson. Benitez would have been an interesting fight, but Benitez was so good defensively I think he would have picked Pryor apart. The Duran that showed up to fight Leonard in Montreal would have savagely beaten Pryor. Now if the fight is after that Pryor would have had a chance because Duran wasn’t always at his best back then, but I am guessing he would have been to fight Pryor.
Hard to be a legend when your prime lasts three years! I will not deny that the Tyson of 86-89 was a machine but I have a problem with a fighter that drops off after such a short time, and I have a huge problem calling him an all-time great. Remember in his best years he did not blow everybody out, he had a fairly close decision win (7-3) over faded contender James”Quick” Tillis; he had some trouble against Tony Tucker; and he could not figure out how to get away from James”Boneclutcher” Smith long enough to knock him out. Really the biggest problem for Tyson was a lack of great fighters to face when he was at his peak He knocked out a blown up light-heavyweight in Michael Spinks and he beat a Larry Holmes who was given little time to prepare. Plus Holmes was in the fight for the money.
I think Tyson all-time falls in the top 15-20 range for heavyweights and I love how all the Tyson fanboys love to make excuses. He got messed up by Robin Givens, Don King, he was no longer trained by Kevin Rooney, please just stop it! Nobody forced him to marry Robin, nobody forced him to go with Don King and please tell me about all of the great champions Rooney has developed since getting fired by King and Tyson. Yes he was incredibly fast as a heavyweight and he could knock down a tree, but what stopped Tyson from being an all-time great were his mental shortcomings.
Truth be told, I bet most of the people who overrate Valero never watched him fight before. I just assume that they heard rumors that he was supposed to fight Pacquiao, so they just believed he’s was an A-list fighter.
In all honesty, I don’t respect Valero as a man, he pulled a murder-suicide, there is no plus side to that. As a fighter though, I do respect him for his punching power, but not to the point where I’d have to make fantasies up that he could beat guys like Manny Pacquiao. People are treating Valero like he was the 2nd coming of Salvador Sanchez. It’s kinda ridiculous if you ask me.
Most of the Valero fans will counter with some bullshit that supposedly happened during sparring. As Allen Iverson would say, “we are talking about practice!” The level of competition that Valero beat leaves a lot to be desired because his best win was a late stoppage of Antonio DeMarco and DeMarco was better than average, but he was no Morales, Pacquiao, or Barrera. He wasn’t even a Joan Guzman.
Hopkins is a great fighter but he often did things on his terms and was a hard nut when it came to negotiations.
5 reasons why I say he is overrated:
1) His success at an old age. People give him all the credit in the world for his wins but totally disregard his losses and shortcomings as a fighter
2) His middleweight title reign…he didn’t unify the title until more than a dozen defenses over mostly nondescript opponents, washed up former belt-holders, and flat out no-hopers. His biggest win is over Trinidad who has one good win over 154. ODLH didn’t belong above 154. Remember no matter what the judges said ODLH lost to Felix Sturm right before fighting Hopkins.
3) Title defenses…newsflash…Hopkins defended the unified/lineal title only 6 times and the IBF 20 times. He holds the record for most defenses of a major title belt; Carlos Monzon holds the record for world’s middleweight champion title defenses at 14–two totally different things. To put Hopkins in the same class as a Monzon, Hagler, or Sugar Ray Robinson is absurd.
4) He fought his best opponents at crappy times in their careers. Instead of defending the middleweight title versus Winky Wright when Wright was the man at 154, he fights him at 170 and did the same thing with Pavlik. He then rematched Roy Jones after he was knocked out a few times but wouldn’t fight him at his best and wanted 50/50 from a guy who already beat him clearly. Jones was a bigger star and champion in a higher division. Basically, he priced himself out to avoid imminent defeat. He knew he couldn’t beat Jones in 1999-2003.
5) He is supposed to be a tactician, have a high ring IQ. He does but its overrated. Speed and movement always troubled him. This is why Robert Allen got three title shots, Jones clearly beat him, Jermain Taylor beat him 2x, he flopped versus Chad Dawson and specialized in disarming come forward types but had trouble with counter punchers and guys who wouldn’t let him set the pace like Kovalev.
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