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Home Boxing HEAVYWEIGHT BUSTS IN THE 21st CENTURY
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HEAVYWEIGHT BUSTS IN THE 21st CENTURY

boxing-fighterWhile I was optimistic in an earlier blog about the American heavyweight landscape, I think it only fair to visit the source of some of our pessimism.  Today I am looking at some recent heavyweight busts.  I am not talking about quality fighters who just couldn’t win a title (Morrison, Chambers, Arreola, Brock).  I mean guys who went from hope to hype in dramatic fashion.  These three went from very exciting to virtually nothing, and extremely quickly.

Derrick Jefferson – Even when winning, Jefferson was not exactly convincing anyone of being Joe Louis.  He was, however, a big, strong, power-punching, undefeated, all-around athlete with heart.  “Derrick Jefferson, I love you!” bellowed Larry Merchant after his dramatic KO win over Maurice Harris.  However, Jefferson followed this coming-out-party victory with losses in 3 of his next 4 fights.  He was stopped in all 3, and in very different ways.  Jefferson dominated David Izon, only to run out of gas in the 9th round.  He then was competitive with Oleg Maskaev, only to lose on a broken ankle in round 4.  Then, two fights later, he was obliterated by Vladimir Klitschko in only 2 rounds.  His post-fight speeches rationalizing his losses were almost as entertaining as his fights.  He even alluded to taking up golf following the Klitschko loss.  Instead, he ended up putting together a 5-fight winning streak.  However, he was now having a hard time with the level of fighters he had previously destroyed.  The illusion ended for good, with a 2-round KO loss to Davarryl Williamson in 2005.

Michael Grant – Like Jefferson, there was a broken ankle excuse for his second loss (McCline).  Unlike Jefferson , Grant began to unravel, while still undefeated.  Only Andrew Golota’s lack of heart saved Grant from defeat in their 1999 clash.  Golota had dropped Grant twice, and was well ahead on the scorecards, when he responded to a suffered knockdown by quitting.  Grant then went on to be destroyed in two rounds by Lennox Lewis.  Looking back on both careers, this would have been expected.  However, at the time, Grant was barely an underdog.  That’s how taken with his charisma, size, and exciting style we were.  His penchant for fighting inside was once what we loved about him.  After his weak chin was exposed, it became his worst detriment.  His cartoonishly high protective cup was just a joke before, but now we knew he was defending a weak body from punches.  We accepted a few ‘rebuilding’ stories, as well as new trainers… before he was again KO’d. This time it was at the hands of very ordinary Dominick Guinn.  Grant has kept fighting, but even the heart he once showed against Golota is no longer there.  Grant had a lot of tools, but unfortunately, not the right ones.

Tye Fields – Here is another entry in the 'second-chance' book.  Fields didn’t come from football.  Rather, the 6’9” prospect came to us from basketball.  He fed on Iowa farm boys and no-hopers for so long, that we began to assume him a nobody, even though he was undefeated, and won all his fights (save 1) by 1st round KO.  He had a loss in there as well, also by 1st round KO, and seemed to show no desire to make a serious run on the heavyweight scene.  Then, the spin began!  Bring in Emmanuel Steward?  Check.  Let Fields carry a shopworn journeyman for 12 rounds to provide the illusion of stamina?  Check.  Now, bring on a big name promoter to add to the hype machine?  Check.  All that was left was to defeat a worn-out former contender in Monte Barrett.  This is where the train derailed.  Fields was promptly exposed, and KO’d in less than a minute.  While he wasted a decade to find out he couldn’t fight, give Fields this… win or lose, he didn’t usually waste anyone’s time on any given night.

Chris Strait
www.convictedartist.com

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