'Smack', 'Junk', 'Noise', 'Dozens', 'Ying Yang', 'Flappin', 'Trash'. Call it what you want but denigrating your opponent is more prevalent than ever and it’s here to stay. Not only are fighters trash talking their opponents more frequently, the internet has provided a medium in which fighters can trash guys they’ll probably never fight. The act of verbally jousting an opponent goes back to the days of Jack Johnson’s golden smile. Papa Jack relished poppin' smack against his opponents in front of thousands of infuriated onlookers. Before the young Cassius Clay observed the impact of wrestler Gorgeous George, Archie Moore charmed writers with his wit and verbosity. The old Mongoose even shamed the Brockton Blockbuster into the ring with an all out campaign complete with “wanted" posters. Some believe that the Rock made old Archie sorry he ever 'went there' but I doubt it, Moore had already achieved the shot and the payday. Nowadays trash talk is almost viewed as a promotional obligation sometimes resulting in awkward press conferences between two guys who just aren’t like that. Seeing John Ruiz dressed in a pimp suit (calling Roy Jones a “ho”) was the act of a desperate man who’d already been 'pimped' at the negotiating table. Some fighters are naturals who should come with a disclaimer: add audience, will talk trash. Some fighters are so proficient at talking trash you tend to be more interested in them between fights because you know they talk more when idle. While some say that these motor mouths represent the sharp decline in sportsmanship and others say the squeaky wheel get’s the oil, I believe the truth is always in the middle. So now without further delay, here are the best damn trash talkers in boxing period.
#5 Tie Paul Malignaggi I and Vivian Harris (140 lbs)
Ayo Paulie! You talking to me? The brash young prospect is different in that he completely obliterates the Italian-American fighter stereotype. Inside the ring this Italian Stallion is more of shall we say 'hip hop paisan'. The flamboyant junior welterweight’s baiting of Panchito Bajado and Al 'Speedy' Gonzalez is hilarious and he openly admits, “I’m just looking to stand out”. This guy is colorful to say the least; with strong promotion hopefully we can see the kid back up the smack with a step up in class.
Tip: Lose the hair; you don’t want to be confused with the “Gotti hotties” from reality TV’s “Growing up Gotti”.
'Vicious' Vivian Harris: Vivian’s war of words with Zab Judah spilled over into New York’s airwaves (Hot97) and took on the air of a rap battle. Pugilisms version of Jay Z vs. Nas seemed right up the Brooklynites alley, Vivian can often get very graphic. The 'n' word is his specialty with a liberal dose of homophobic rantings about the 'bitches' in the 140-pound division. Venting Vivian has a lot to spout off about; promoter difficulties and an inability to attract the bigger names in the division would make me want to drop a few 'f-bombs' too. A victory over Hatton would have opened doors, but for now Vivian remains an open mouth.
Tip: Man, you shoulda took that Hatton fight. Find a doctor to get that bullet out of your foot.
#4 Ricardo Mayorga (154-160 lbs)
Man, where do I even begin with this guy? Remember that toddler who does something naughty (to the laughter of adults) and then annoyingly does it over and over again? That’s Mayorga. His trash talk is getting kind of redundant - balls, manhood and early knockouts that never materialize are his specialty. His mention of Cory Spinks' deceased mother did it for me, when he said that I knew he’d lose. I will give El Matador this; his trash talk resembles his fighting style: crude, predictable and relentless.
Tip: Don’t ever train in Nicaragua again, get some Nicorette gum and learn to duck before October 2nd.
#3 James Toney (heavyweight)
Often unintelligible with the exception of his favorite term of endearment for heavyweight titleholders - 'bums' - James is a personal favorite. He reminds me of my cousin Troy, except with Troy’s case everyone he ever met was a 'punk'. James is no holds barred, attacking writers sparring partners and whoever else may be in his general vicinity. James has a special hot button in the topic of Roy Jones, one mention of Pensacola’s finest and all bets are off. James also has some choice words for Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver. I don’t know James, but I think he’s one of those guys who will trash talk you when he meets you to see if he can rattle you. If you blink, 'Lights Out' will ride you from here to kingdom come.
Tip: Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeet, I aint giving that brotha no tip, are you crazy?
#2 Bernard Hopkins (middleweight)
Hard Nard is versatile; he can be prophetic, witty, paranoid and downright scary. This cat talks with a cunning, calculated agenda, everything he says is designed for a set a tone. The prison ethic is still apparent in Nards rhetoric, trust no one and keep your eyes peeled. Incapable of flying off the handle like Toney, Hopkins speaks in long dissertations always finding a way to tie everything in a neat little bow. That neat little bow at the end of Bernard’s rants is always the same, I’m going to beat you, by any means necessary, and you will not mess up my money. Classic Bernard was his attempt to evoke the tragedy of Benny Paret (vs. Emille Griffith) in the buildup to his 2003 bout with William Joppy. Now that was a 'what the f*@#?' moment for me.
Tip: Spread the trash Bernard, don’t be stingy.
#1 Antonio Tarver (light heavyweight)
OK, this guy is an all timer, a classic trash talker of prodigious proportions. He stalked Roy Jones in masterful Ali fashion, talking to anybody that would listen. His pre fight “got any excuses, Roy?" will go down in boxing history. He’s Ali-like because he can come up with nicknames (Bernard 'The Extortioner' Hopkins), yet he’s sort of got that Baptist preacher thing going with the ice-cream colored suits. His diction seems to be a source of pride, often drawing comparison between himself and "the bumpkin” Jones Jr. Tarver loves to talk so much that a career as an analyst or promoter may lead to more fame than his ring career. Tarver also seems to be the common denominator in most of boxings verbal 'bouts' north of the middleweight division. Now what does that tell you?
Tip: Crash the James Toney post fight press conference on September 23rd. You, James, Tom Arnold. Priceless.
Underrated: Roy Jones 'third person' rants; Fernando Vargas on De La Hoya; JC Candelo and Kasim Ouma before Ouma beat JC like a drum; Eric 'The Grouch' Morales; Naseem Hamed’s mouth will catapult him back into the top five upon his proposed return to the ring.
Until The Next Jones
The Smack Talkin' 'Boxing Junkie'
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