The True Meaning of the Word "Great" in Boxing
In today's boxing, the term "great" has lost most of its meaning. Great boxers today are fighters who have either a zero in their loss column; who has the money with good ratings from the fans; or one that has a known accolade that no one has yet to reach.
A true great is not what he has done in his career alone, but how he has affected the game of boxing as well. A great boxer is not what he has in material (such as titles and money), but what's instilled into one's soul. A great fighter always wants to be in the same ring and realm with the very best. And most of all, a great fighter displays his true greatness never when he's at his best, but after he has been beaten and defies the odds. A true great never lets the fear of losing prevent him from boxing at the highest level.
When I think of a great, I think of Muhammad Ali stating, "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." When I hear this I'm thinking of active fighters like De La Hoya, Felix "Tito" Trinidad, Roy Jones Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Manny Pacquiao, and soon to be on this list: Kelly Pavlik. These are men in some part of their career who decided to take a fight that they could easily lose, a bout that may end the "Golden Age" of their career per say. That is just one characteristic of being a great fighter, the other characteristics comes out of each of these active fighters:
-Kelly Pavlik (an undefeated fighter) learned the GREAT way of getting to the top, he fought a man in Edison Miranda...yes, a man that isn't considered great, but was feared as if he was one. A man that could drop you with a single punch or send you out of the ring dangling like string puppet. Pavlik was man enough to beat one of the most intimidating fighters in the game, and is now reaping the benefits. Pavlik is a man with brutal punching power with both hands, and a hungry, humble attitude....deadly combination. Even in today's press conference for his upcoming fight against Bernard Hopkins, Pavlik simply states, "I want to fight the best."
-Oscar De La Hoya, nearing the end of his career, chose to fight top P4P fighters ranging from Bernard Hopkins to Floyd Mayweather Jr. All of this man's losses came from A class fighters(Hopkins, Trinidad, Mayweather, and Mosley), and I always say a fighter will always get better and learn, when they lose against great fighters than beating good ones. Recently, his company Golden Boy Promotions was trying to kill off a fight between Pacquiao and himself. De La Hoya immediately stopped the transaction, stated that fighting the P4P king is the best choice for his last fight. This is all the telling of a no guts and no glory attitude.
-Bernard Hopkins, a man with a heart of a warrior and the ring IQ of a genius, has been an underdog his entire career; and every time he defies the odds the in the ring. While fighting top notch fighters (Trinidad, Taylor, Tarver, and now Pavlik) nearing the end of his career, B-Hop has yet to even receive a cut on his face. At the age of 43, he now wants to fight the power punching P4P fighter Kelly Pavlik and soon the former P4P king Roy Jones Jr. 43 at age is nothing when you have the heart, mind, and soul of a true GREAT.
These are examples of active fighters today that are displaying the true definition of greatness without a doubt. Men who never feared to lose, and if they did they came back to claim their glory no matter what age. These men are the ultimate competitors who refuse to fight no one but the best and always defied the odds in the process. Remember greatness is instilled in the boxer's blood, mind, and soul, and not in the man's alphabet titles or accolades. A man who has never tested the waters of TRUE competition or has never been in a battle with great fighters is a fighter who will be stuck at the gates of True Greatness.