February - Happy Birthday To Five Modern Day Boxing Greats

naseem hamed28.01.07 - By James Slater: No fewer than five modern day boxing greats were born in the month of February. And three of these household names are actually still active - indeed two of them will soon be squaring off against one another in the fight of the decade. The retired greats that will be blowing out candles on birthday cakes in the coming month are featherweight legends, Barry McGuigan and Naseem Hamed. And while these two 126 pound former world rulers never swapped punches with each other they are rivals of a degree, in that their respective positions among the all-time greats of the featherweight division are somewhat debated. Just who was the better overall fighter, Hamed or McGuigan?

A tough one to call, but deep down, when it comes to such qualities as heart, character and mental toughness, my opinion says Barry was the better fighter. His reign didn’t last as long as Naseem’s, he didn’t have anywhere near as much punch power and he might not have been as exciting to watch; but oh, what guts and passion for fighting “The Clones Cyclone” had. You can place him a couple of notches above Hamed on the best ever featherweights poll for this writer, definitely so.

As for their current ages, Naseem, his career long since over - prematurely, it must be added - will turn thirty-three on February the 12th. While Barry, now a member of The Boxing Hall of Fame, turns forty-six on the 28th. However one wishes to look at these two vastly different men today, happy birthday wishes are in order for them both.

The two rivals that are still active and set to lock horns in 2000’s fight of the decade are, of course, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather. Two of the best in the world right now, both men are actually starting to see their number of birthdays celebrated pile up. “The Golden Boy” turns thirty-four on the 4th of Feb, while “Pretty Boy” hit’s the big “three-o” on the 24th. Just past their primes then they may be - more so in the case of Oscar - but a good, if not absolutely great fight, we hope they will give us when they hook up in May. In the meantime, it’s happy birthday to them both.

And finally, another active member of the pound-4-pound list of fighters dominating boxing in his own particular weight class is “The Pride of Wales” himself, Joe Calzaghe. Joe, probably more popular now than he has ever been - courtesy of his “ it was about time” showing of his undeniable skill in the Jeff Lacy fight a while back, hits the thirty-five year old mark on the 23rd of the month of February. Soon to wrap up his fine career, surely, Joe boxes Contender runner up Peter Manfredo in April, and will then hopefully make the trip across to the States and sign off with a mega-fight with a big name - Jermain Taylor or Bernard Hopkins, hopefully. Whatever Joe decides to do should he do as expected and get past Manfredo without too much trouble, however, happy birthday wishes go out to him for the coming month also.

February, the month that brought the world five modern day boxing legends.

Article posted on 29.01.2007

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