Boxing: The Excitement Factor Revisited
By Ted Sares:
Article posted on 04.09.2008
Are you ready over here? Are you ready here/ Ok, let’s get it on.
-- Mills Lane
Excitement in the ring means different things to different people. There is no one right definition. For me it means a lack of predictability in which a fighter can chill or be chilled at any give time. To that end, Bob Satterfield was the most exciting fighter I have witnessed bar none. To others, it might mean Antonio Margarito systematically breaking down and then closing out an opponent in brutal and relentless fashion. A ‘stalk, stun and kill” style is an exciting one to be sure.
This weekend, boxing fans will be watching another extremely exciting fighter in Michael Katsidis as he battles Juan Diaz in a high-profile crossroads fight that has potential classic written all over it. Indeed, my sense of anticipation is almost as high as it was for Margarito-Cotto.. With a record of 23 (KO 20) - 1 (KO 1) and a KO percentage of 83.33, what’s not to like? Moreover, his excitement factor is 84%, and I define this by dividing the total number of stoppage losses by the total number of fights. Kat’s lack of defensive skills combined with his aggressive and savage incoming style makes him a compelling fighter to watch.
Let’s look at some other fighters with a high excitement factor and see whether they really were or are exciting.
Russian middleweight Victor “The Destroyer” Oganov has a record of 28 (KO28-1(KO1) which translates to a perfect excitement factor of 100%, but against Fulgencia Zuniga last year, he was badly exposed as having minimal defensive skills and was destroyed by Zuniga over 9 rounds. If KOs are your thing, Oganov might be just what the doctor ordered, but the ecxitement that comes with them may not be all that compelling..
Edwin “Dinamita” Valero (24 -0 with 24 KO’s) is another with a perfect excitement factor and KO percentage. And he owns the WBA super featherweight title as well. With Edwin, you simply don’t go to the refrigertor. In 2006, he won his first 18 fights as a professional by first-round knockout, a record that has since been broken by Tyrone “Young Gun” Brunson who is now at 19 (KO 19)-0-1. While Valero’s level of opposition might be somewhat suspect, Brunson’s has been downright awful. Icing fodder is not exciting.
Former IBF super middleweight title holder Alejandro Berrio is at 28 (KO 27)-5 (KO 5) for a 96.97% factor and he is indeed very exciting. This Colombian bomber is a classic chill-or-be-chilled type guaranteed to provide chills down your spine. He is now mounting a comeback after having lost to another exciting guy by the name of Lucian Bute, 22 (KO 18)-0.
Marcus “Big Tuna” Rhode usually chills when he steps down and get canned when he steps up. His mark is 34 (KO 29)-34 (KO 29)-2 and he is a perfect 500 hitter. A review of opponents he has beaten reveals dreadful opposition. Perhaps the highlight of his career was when he beat Ron Johnson (21-22 coming in) a year ago in Arkansas. In 2000, he was beating Butterbean handily over 3 rounds until he made the mistake of trading punches and was quickly starched. Bean (aka Eric Essch) was 59-1-2 at the time. Would I go out of my way to watch Rhode fight? I’d rather eat a dry tuna sandwich.
Edison Miranda could be the poster child for what I am getting at here. Win or lose, something exciting and maybe even Bizzare is goiing to happenb when this heavy handed Colombian goes to work. With a record of 30 (KO 26)-3 (KO 2), he is an unpredictable type capable of changing the direction of a fight at any time.
The late Julian Letterlough was pure excitement with a record of 21 (KO 20)-5 (KO2) -3, but ironically the most exciting fight he participated in was a decision loss, the 2001 classic against Julio Cesar Gonzalez in which Gonzalez was decked thrice and “MR. KO” twice at the Celeste Center in Columbus, Ohio. For sheer excitement, that fight is on many all-time lists.
Another ‘Julian,” Julian “The Hawk” Jackson sported a record of 55 (KO 49)- 6 (KO 6) and an excitement factor of 90.16% and he too was truly exciting. Talk about chill-or-be-chilled. Of course, the Hawk did the chilling most of the time.
“The Beast” and Earl
Earl Hargrove fought Australian (by way of Uganda) John “the Beast” Mugabi on March 17, 1985, in Tampa. Hargrove, out of Philadelphia, came into the fight with a stellar 26-1 record—his first twenty-four fights being won by way of stoppage. Mugabi’s record was even more impressive. Right out of the professional gate, the unbeaten “Beast” entered the fight with twenty-four straight, often spectacular, KOs and had built a big reputation as a bomber.
This promised to be a battle between two bangers, and someone was sure to go early. This just might be a repeat of the Meza-Garza shoot out. Mugabi had beaten James “Hard Rock”Green, Frank “the Animal” Fletcher (whose nickname rivaled that of Mugabi’s),
and Curtis Parker all by stoppage. Mugabi would enter the ring to chants of “Beast, Beast, Beast!” Hargrove’s opposition was far inferior. When he did step up to fight tough Mark Medal, he lost by TKO.
When the fighters finally touched gloves and the bell rang, just like that and before I had time to cut and light up my Griffin Corona, it was over. Hargrove was dispatched by the Beast in 1:33 of the first round. Hargrove had been exposed.
There are many others who fit the bill. Guys who could (or can) deal in concussive mayhem like Rocky Marciano, a prime Mike Tyson, Tommy Morrison, Tommy Hearns, Bobby Crabtree, Richard Hall, Vic Darchinyan , and Medgoen 3-K Battery Singsurat (who KOd Manny Pacquiao in 1999). As well, Jaime “Rocky” Balboa, Ratanapol Sor Vorapin, Manny Pacquiao, David Haye, Kelly Pavlik, Rocky Gannon, Tito Trinidad, Danny “Little Red” Lopez, and Mathew Saad Mohammed come to mind. And how can I leave out Nigel Benn and Carl “The Cat” Thopmson? There are others too numerous to list here.
But two more warrant attention; their records show that sometimes there is a record behind the record.
The late Lamar Clark won his first pro fight by decision and then proceeded to win forty-four straight fights by KO. Some of his opponents were professional wrestlers; others were local tough guys picked up off the street. On December 1, 1958, as part of something called the Intermountain Heavyweight Tournament in Bingham, Utah, he fought six consecutive foes, knocking each out, five in the first round with a mauling and brawling style.
On April 8, 1960, Clark (45-0 at the time, 44 KOs) stepped up for the first time and fought unknown Dominican Bartolo Soni (12-2-1) in Ogden, Utah, and lost by a ninth-round TKO. Clark’s incredible streak had been made against unknown fodder with a combined won-lost record of 6-33! Twenty were in the first round. Soni was only the second opponent with a winning record. Lamr’s record was totally hollow. He would then lose to Pete Rademacher and Muhammad Ali by TKO and retired with a 45-3 slate, a misleading KO percentage of 92 percent, and an unexciting excitement factor of 97.92. All this occurred in a span of just three years.
James Holly (alias Virgil Holly / James Robinson), fought out of Ashtabula, Ohio from 1983-2000 and was both a fighter and an infamous promoter. As a boxer, he had an eye-popping 97% excitement factor in 60 (or possible 69) fights. The problem was that he lost all his fights (55 or 69 depending on what sources and aliases you use) by way of KO, some 30 in the first round. He did upset heavily favored Sammy Scaff with a ten round icing in 1998. The giant Scaff once fought Mike Tyson.
Yes, sometimes there is a record behind the record.
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