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Challenging Boxing’s Myths
By Jim Cawkwell (June 17, 2004) 
This article is the inception of a new series of discussions I will pose to you, the fans, regarding the nature of several enduring myths that the boxing community commonly accepts. I have designed it specifically to encourage all who read it to express their opinions via e-mail to the address provided at its end. The most potent and articulate arguments given on each topic as they are presented will be chosen for inclusion in the follow-up article, but be sure to get those e-mails in before the end of the designated time period.

The first topic for discussion is…

The Blown-Up Fighter

Not literally blown up of course, although there may be a few which you might want to see as such. For a boxer to progress up through different weight classes is the norm nowadays; but there is a contradiction towards this concept that deserves recognition. It is a sign of greatness for a fighter to achieve world championship success in more than one weight class. Achieving championships in three weight classes is accepted as the stuff of boxing legend.

Sometimes this feat can be taken too far, as outlined by the recent performance of Oscar De La Hoya. Against Felix Sturm, we saw De La Hoya looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable in the ring. Sturm’s solid middleweight body structure served to accentuate de la Hoya’s distinct lack of physical definition.

Of course, De La Hoya was a destructive force many years ago as a debutant in the super-featherweight division and he carried that aura with him another two weight classes before it appeared that his power began to wane in his campaign as a welterweight. Now as a middleweight, it appears obvious that De La Hoya has challenged his body to its capacity, yet it remains to be seen how much more effective he might be.

James Toney and Roy Jones are two more examples of fighters who have transposed their talents up through multiple weight classes to great effect. Between them they have won titles at middleweight, super-middleweight, light heavyweight, cruiserweight and finally in the heavyweight division.

I found a glaring contradiction in the aftermath of Jones’s WBA heavyweight title win against John Ruiz. Fan opinion appeared split between those who lauded Jones for achieving titles in four weight classes and those who claimed that he was merely a blown-up fighter who would not have had the chance to succeed as a heavyweight if the division could still boast true quality throughout.

In my opinion, a key stipulation of greatness is for a fighter to be able to negate the disadvantage of physical limitation with the sheer quality of his talent. Surely then the ability to become a dominant force in several weight classes is evidence of greatness.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has advanced himself from the super-featherweight division to the light-welterweight class. But in contrast to Jones’s situation, the light-welterweight division boasts as talented a group of fighters as you could want. If Mayweather were to dominate there in addition to his past accomplishments, his name would appear to hold even greater historical significance.

I have rarely heard a fighter excuse himself from defeat because of his increase in weight. When a fighter wishes to ascend to a new weight class, he enlists conditioners and nutrition experts to fine tune every aspect of his weight gain and assure that he makes the weight, being both strong and ready to fight. Indeed, excuses from a fighter in this regard would make a mockery of himself, his team and the entire process.

I think it is among us fans that such terms are more regularly used. So use this opportunity to have your say and let us clear this situation up finally.

Is it right to degrade the general talent level of a weight class simply because a naturally smaller fighter finds success there?

Is it accurate to dismiss a fighter as being blown-up simply because he fails to perform outside of his initial weight class?

Is it just to deny a fighter respect for beating a naturally smaller fighter who challenged him at his own weight?

Please send your responses to me at
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