As I read about the well deserving p4p all time greats (Robinson, Ali, Louis, Marciano etc.) who stood head and shoulders above all of their peers while enjoying the prime of their careers, I recall two fighters who are often overlooked or underated when all of the other legends are discussed. The legacies of Roy Jones Jr. and "Iron" Mike Tyson seem to be greatly affected by their apparent downfalls while, when both of these men were in their primes, it was believed that NO ONE past or present had not even an inkling of a chance to defeat them.
Rocky Marciano's greatest fights against the best fighters in his prime were most often boxers who were well past their prime when he defeated them (Walcott, Louis etc..). Not to discredit his legacy or ability, however we do not see any of his bouts as a fight of the century, decade, or even the year for that matter. And he retired b4 being forced to face the VERY prime and menacing Sony Liston.
Although Louis was one of the greatest finishers ever and had one of the best short hooks in the business with either hand, he was slow footed in a time period where the HW division severely lacked slick fighters that could have easily avoided his punches.
Robinson, regarded by many boxing experts as the no 1 p4p boxer of all time, was bested by a slower, less talented, Raging Bull Jake Lamotta in his absolute prime for his first loss after 123 bouts, but got his lick back 3 weeks later and 3 more times after that (Until Gayweather matches this output, he should keep his freaking mouf closed about being the G.O.A.T.). [Not getting paid for this blog, so I'm taking the liberty to write an opinionated statement]
Ali... Speaks for itself. How do you win a major HW championship for a third time while suffering from parkinsons???
Now, down to business...
Most avid boxing fans are aware of the Cus D'amato cultivated, Rooney trained Tyson and, during his prime, NO ONE gave any HW in history a chance of beating him. After suffering his first defeat, many people accused Tyson of being a fighter who could not beat men who stood up to him and were not intimidated by his 'aura' of invincibility, and that once his opponents survived thru to the later rounds, he became vulnerable. Well, my challenge to anyone reading this blog is to name me at least ONE decision that was close or that Tyson lost. Hell, name me even one SPLIT decision after the 12th round of any Tyson fight. (Like Katt Williams says... "Don't worry, I'll wait..."). We forget the often overlooked 2nd fight with Donovan "Razor" Ruddock, where Tyson was actually wobbled a few times and had the nerve put his fist to his jaw after taking one of those "mule kick" punches like, "gimmie some more" only to go on and win a hard fought decisive unanimous decision with slightly diminished skills. I also recall the fight with James "Quick" Tillis who lasted the entire fight with Tyson and traded punches with him without fear. There is also the fight with Mitch Green who gave an honest, fearless effort against him. I could go on as ALL of his fights that went the distance were unanimous decisions in favor of Iron Mike. Come to think of it, he was the underdog only once in all of his career bouts (Lewis). And let's not forget that there has been no other prize fighter in the history of sport that has generated as much revenue than Tyson to date.
As for Roy Jones Jr., I can NOT for the life of me believe that he is not regarded at least as the greatest LHW ever despite his downfall. Never has anyone in the history of the division stood as far and tall, head and shoulders above the rest of his peers as he has over a very significant amount of time in the style and fashion that he has done it. Without him in the division at the time he dominated, we would have a toss up of who would be the number one guy to unify the belts (Griffin, Tarver, Harding, Woods, Hill etc...). Many say the Superman ducked Michelsewski (sp?), however he rarely if EVER left his country for the big fights. Furthermore, why should Jones have compromised his comfort zone and barganing power to go overseas when he was regarded as the number one P4P boxer in the world at the time? I doesn't make sense. In fact, he mentioned Michelsewski as a possible opponent at the Glenn Kelly postfight interview. But I'm getting off point.
Another thing that seems to hurt Jones' legacy is that he is often used as the measuring stick to guage the legitimacy of the legacy of Floyd Mayweather who is often accused of ducking fighters and not taking chances in the ring. However, the amazing differences between these two is where out of most of the decisions that Jones has won from the beginning to the latter part of his prime, he could have very easily have scored brutal knockouts in those wins, with the exception of Hopkins, Toney, Ruiz and Tarver (All future Hall of Famers), while in many of Floyd's bouts it was painfully obvious that he did not possess those same abilities. And we have YET to witness in PBF the killer instinct that Roy has displayed on occasion (Rember the second fight with the undefeated Griffin? The body shot to a VERY legitimate Hill? etc...). How often have we ever seen a fighter (Floyd included), with the exception of Ali as Jones has, carry or punish quality fighters on many occasions to the point where they would implore the referee to stop a fight during their bouts? Let's not forget his record of knockouts before his bout with Bernard Hopkins (20 KO's out of 21 fights). And out of the 27 fights since defeating Hopkins to the last fight in his prime with John Ruiz for the WBA HW Championship, he's scored 20 KO's. Hardly seems like a fighter that Mayweather can come close to comparing to.
Although I can further highlight the exploits in the primes of both Tyson and Jones, I'll stop here and wait for the responses to this post and hopefully we all can have healthy and well thought out debates and dialogue regarding this matter.
On a side note, here is my list of P4P boxer's that were deemed unbeatable in there primes:
John L. Sullivan
Roy Jones Jr.
Ali is excluded from this list as he was regarded as a heavy underdog against two of most feared boxers in the history of boxing and to me is the REAL magic man defeating apparently IMPOSSIBLE odds.