Convicted Artist Magazine

Aug 19th
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historical_perspectiveAs boxing fans and writers we often question everything about what we are dealt from the powers that be.  Decisions, referee calls, opponent choices, and retirements are all fair game for us to analyze.  However, rarely does the debate come up as to who is in the ‘Hall of Fame’.  Are there names that do not belong there?  Are there names that should be added?  In an imperfect world, any structure is bound to benefit from some improvement.  Where human beings are concerned, there is always bias, error, and influence. 
Now, I know there are some who will say it is called the ‘Hall of “Fame”’, not ‘Hall of “Ability”’, but I believe fame has enough of its own benefits, without letting it blur the lines of who was really exceptional in our sport.  I believe that inclusion should only be determined by how good someone was… period.  Therefore, that is the angle at which I am exploring this.  Let’s look at a few fighters whose “Hall” status bears a second look.  My first entries are quite heavy on the 1980’s.
Barry McGuigan
A celebrity during his time in the ring, as well as after?  Yes.  A legit world champion who toppled another long-reigning titlist?  Certainly?  A legit hall-of-famer?  I don’t think there is a very good case.  McGuigan posted impressive wins over Bernard Taylor and Juan LaPorte other than the victory over an aging Pedroza, yet beyond that, there is nothing to suggest ‘Hall’ status.  As a champion, he struggled with ordinary Danilo Cabrera, and then lost to unheralded Steve Cruz.  A brief comeback two years later ended with a 4-round stoppage to Jim McDonald.  Is there something I am missing here?  He was a fractional belt-holder, who defended a couple times, and lost the title.  Why on earth is he in the ‘Hall’?
Ray Mancini
This is the same argument, so I won’t make it twice.  Like McGuigan, he was a personable fighter, with the right ethnicity, looks, and style to be popular.  Not to mention he fought in the television era that lended itself to a brawler with a personality.  However, he won a fractional title from an unimpressive Arturo Frias, defended it a few times against decent opposition, and lost it to an eventually unimpressive champion is his own right.  I have nothing against Mancini and McGuigan.  Guys like them are great for boxing, and I wish we had a ton of them, but they are not ‘Hall’ worthy.  Prepare for me to make the same argument against Arturo Gatti in a couple years.
Donald Curry
When someone is once hailed as the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound, it’s a fair guess that they will end up in the ‘Hall of Fame’ when their career is over.  Not so for the ‘Lone Star Cobra’.  This is a man who unified a competitive Welterweight division, without anyone coming close to beating him.  Curry was also named fighter of the year for 1985, and held the top P4P honors while none other than Marvin Hagler was presiding at Middleweight.  He also suffered his first defeat after staying unnaturally at 147lbs, and then moved up to 154lbs to win another title.  He lost that title in a controversial decision in his opponent’s backyard, and his only other prime losses were to 'Hall of Famers' Terry Norris and Mike McCallum as well as a much bigger undefeated champion in Michael Nunn.  He had chin issues, and failed at the bigger weights, but if that matters so much then I guess we should take Bob Foster out of the ‘Hall’.  What Curry did at Welterweight was more than enough to warrant inclusion.
Buster Douglas
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the man who pulled off the greatest upset in boxing history is not in the ‘Hall of Fame’.  I can see the argument against this, but I disagree with it.  Douglas ’ career besides the one magical night against Tyson was one of a talented heavyweight, with a weak chin, inadequate stamina, and sub-par will.  For me, however, there are just some singular events that push someone over the edge.  The biggest upset in boxing history is no small feat.  We’re talking about over 100 years of recorded history in over a dozen divisions.  This is not even a record that is ever likely to be broken, because of the lack of dominant fighters nowadays.  There is also the issue of it no longer making financial sense to put forth non-competitive matches.  42-1 were the odds against Douglas .  There are not potential matchups to equal this feat.  If Mayweather decided he wanted a belt at welterweight and fought one of the unproven title holders there: Zaveck or Veyacheslav… the odds would not be 42-1.  Hopkins vs. Morade Hakkar wasn’t even 42-1.  Not to mention the fact that Douglas accomplished this feat amidst recent personal tragedy.  The man also defeated himself in every single one of his losses, rather than losing by opponent superiority.  He did this by either giving up late in a fight he was winning, or by exiting early after coming in out of shape.  This makes his accomplishment even more astonishing.  The man was flawed, but he holds a very impressive distinction that goes well beyond title belts, and overall career status.  He deserves this honor.

Chris Strait

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