Vocal Fighters vs. The Quiet Warriors

12.09.04 - By Ryan Gaffney: Over the years the people who are close to boxing have seen their share of fighters come and go. Each fighter who rose to prominence would exhibit his own personality in and out of the ring. Sometimes the fighter’s personality was a backdrop to their performance in the ring, but other times, it seemed, that their greatest or worse contribution to the sport happened when they weren’t fighting.

Quiet warriors such as Jerry Quarry and Mickey Ward became stars in their sport, because of what they exhibited in the ring. Every time both fighters stepped into the ring, their opponents knew come hell or high water they were in for the fight of their life. This type of battle between warriors helped the boxers become stars in the ring. Outside of boxing, the general public wouldn’t even recognize their name.

Over the years, it seems, boxers are becoming more notable for their actions and talk outside the ring than in it. A fighter like Muhammad Ali, who was regarded as “The Greatest,” begs the question was he really the greatest? Was Ali the greatest fighter to ever climb through the squared circle? Or was it simply his charismatic personality that led to him being called the greatest?

In the boxing community everybody has their favorite fighters and who they believe the best fighter ever was. Many people believe Joe Louis was the best heavyweight, who was great at every aspect of boxing. Others like former heavyweight champion George Foreman have stated, “Lennox [Lewis] is the greatest heavyweight of all time.” Although, many times, to the general public, it appears that the words that are put out by a vocal fighter are the words which we use to describe them. When talking about Muhammad Ali, he is referred to as “The Greatest” and when describing Lennox Lewis’ career we refer to it as his “Legacy.” So are the quiet warriors not receiving the prominence of those who shout their greatness from the rooftops?

Evander Holyfield is an example of a fighter who is not into the theatrics of the modern day promotion. He has been one of a handful of boxers to transcend the sport in the last 10 years. In order to do this he had to win wars against Dwight Qawi, Michael Dokes, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe, Ray Mercer, Michael Moorer, John Ruiz and Mike Tyson. All this work helped Evander become huge in the sport of boxing, while it seems other fighters get put on the map for other qualities besides their boxing skills.

Although Holyfield seems to be an exception to the rule, do to his tremendous heart and the show he puts on in the ring. Many modern day fighters seem to realize that the better way to be known is not by pure fighting skill, but rather by prefight antics. Talking trash and fighting at the prefight press conference seem to go a lot further in advancing promotion and a boxer’s career than delivering a great performance in the ring.

Boxing, like all sports, is entertainment. It stands to reason that developing rivalries and bad blood lead the audience into picking sides and becoming interested in the entertainment both in and out of the ring. But, is this becoming too common and obvious for the audience today? Bouts between Mickey Ward and Arturo Gatti became huge because of they came to fight, even though they were friends outside of the ring. Some antics are fine, but when it becomes redundant and an obvious show, the sport loses something and the fans lose interest.

Article posted on 12.09.2004

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