I’ve been following the opponent in boxing since I started in boxing. I’ve always been enthused with the guys who have records like 9 wins and 46 losses, or 26 wins and 107 losses. Since I’ve been in boxing I’ve always been intrigued by how these guys come in at the last minute and save boxing shows.
Some people call these guys stiffs, but I would call them the backbone of boxing.
These guys are accepted in the UK and Europe more than they are in the U.S. When you have a guy like Billy Smith from the UK who always stayed in shape and always was ready for a fight (he was also a feature story in the Ring magazine), or Winston Burnett from the UK (a guy who just liked to fight), you have journeymen opponents; one, Smith, was an average guy, and the other, Burnett, was a business executive—these guys just liked to fight for the sake of fighting.
And then you have a guy like Benji Singleton (26 wins and 107 losses for a total of 139 fights), whom they called “Bad News”—in 2001 he fought for the World Boxing Federation Intercontinental Welterweight title; he lost to Perry Bauer in TKO 9. His first title fight was the International Boxing Council Light Middleweight title; he lost to Robert Fraser in 12 rounds. He also fought a who’s who of boxing. His last fight was against Wilford Scypion Jr. I’d have to say that’s pretty good for a guy with a losing record to fight for two titles.
Then here comes a guy like Mike Vega, who has 7 wins and 8 losses, for a total of 16 fights with one draw. He fought my fighter Travis Richardson twice. In 1998 he fought Bobby Heath for the Pennsylvania State Light Middleweight title.
The reason why I’m mentioning these title fights is that, if these guys are so bad, how can they get title matches? I would class these guys more as gauges and stepping-stones than opponents.
Some guys today have big glorified records that won a thousand dollars or more per round, but I don’t feel they’re worth it when you have a guy like Randy Jenkins, who just passed away, who ended up making $150 for four rounds for his last fight. He ended up being a quadriplegic before he died. Some of these guys give so much, but get so little.
Where would boxing be without the opponent? Since the start of boxing there have always been opponents…and always will be.