Convicted Artist Magazine

May 25th
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marion-wilson-bradley-roneI applaud the fighters who are perennial gatekeepers… particularly the ones who force young prospects to put in the rounds.  It’s true that these are the wrong kinds of long careers to have, yet most of their fights only go 4-6 rounds, therefore they don’t accumulate as much damage.  There is something to be said for lasting, and earning a paycheck that was technically earned the second you made it into the ring.  Especially when you know, as many of them do, that the decision would not go your way, even if you deserved it.  Most of these fighters were simply not punchers.  Combine that with a lack of a support system, and you have a recipe for this kind of career.  Let’s look at a few modern examples:

Reggie Strickland – With over 300 bouts to his name, Strickland was Buck Smith, if Smith lost all the time.  For those of you who don’t get the comparison, Smith was the insanely active prospect of the early 90’s, who once fought twice in one day!  Strickland made his living entirely as a journeyman clubfighter.  He usually extended young prospects as well, including a young Tavoris Cloud, at a time when Cloud was knocking everyone silly.  He also saw his share of controversial decisions go against him.  One was so flagrantly obvious, that Strickland was announced the winner, only to witness a loud argument between the promoter and the commission at ringside.  Next he heard the decision reversed.  Wow!  That takes balls!  But none compared to the ones Strickland showed fighting anyone and everyone with futility for that many years.  He finally did retire, and let’s hope this is where his boxing story ends.

Marion Wilson – Don’t bother trying for the knockout.  While Wilson , like Strickland, had enough skills to scare an upset as a possibility, his main skill was going the distance.  Even against murderous punchers like Sam Peter, Wilson saw the final bell.  He did so with chin, and guile, and more than a little bending of the rules.  He even scored the occasional upset, such as over silver medalist Paea Wolfgramm.  His robbery story was Ray Mercer.  Not a bad decision really, but the draw was much more kind to Mercer than Wilson .

Bradley Rone – Near the turn of the millennium, Rone faced most up and coming heavyweights and extended them.  Unlike many journeyman of his day, the Cincinnati native did not have an initial run of wins as a prospect.  He started and ended his career as a losing opponent.  He prided himself on his toughness, going the distance with most of the young guns he faced.  His career and life came to a tragic ring ending.  He was not killed by punches, however, but via a heart attack between rounds 1 and 2 of a rematch with Billy Zumbrun.  Rone’s mother had passed the day before, and he was fighting to raise funeral money.  Only 34 years old, family members believe their bond was so close, Rone willed himself to die to be with her.

Lovemore N’Dou – We need at least one high profile entry.  While I do not mean to insult N’Dou by putting him here, as he is a former title belt hodler, he will best be remembered as the fighter who lost 8-4 against some much greater fighters.  A South-African born, Australian-based fighter, he even made his home briefly in the U.S. under the Goossen-Tutor banner.  He was not a puncher, but could handle himself, and seemed to win the small exchanges of every dead spot… forcing opponents to dig deep, and fight all 12 rounds.  Kermit Cintron, Kell Brook, Junior Witter, and Miguel Cotto may have been knocking out most, but when they took on N’Dou, they could not.  He upset fellow Australian Naoufel Ben Rabah to win the IBF 140lb belt, but was outclassed twice by Paulie Malignaggi.  At 40 years old, with more than 60 fights, we have probably seen his best, but no one ever had an easy night against N’Dou.

Chris Strait

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