Saturday, September 26, 2015

Too much ado about 49-0

Marciano's record has been mangled, misinterpreted and misunderstood by many in the media. The reality is, 49-0 represents a heavyweight milestone and nothing else.
By Peter Lim

So much has been made about Floyd Mayweather's recent victory over Andre Berto that raised his ledger to 49-0, equaling the record Rocky Marciano retired with and took to his grave. But really, how relevant was Mayweather's accomplishment?

The number has been a jinx for sure, with several champions and titleholders attempting to reach or surpass that mark, coming tantalizingly close but falling a hair short at the finish line.

Larry Holmes, in the 21st defense of his heavyweight crown, was 48-0 when he was monumentally upset by reigning light heavyweight champ Michael Spinks 1985. Two-division champion Ricardo Lopez was 47-0-1 in 1998 when Rosendo Alvarez fought him to a draw in a unification straw-weight bout. And in 2013 Chris John was 48-0-3 when he was stopped by Simpiwe Vetyeka in the 19th defense of his WBA featherweight title.

But the truth of the matter is, only Holmes' derailment to Spinx has any real bearing to 49-0. Marciano's undefeated record represents a heavyweight milestone and means very little outside that weight division. While 49-0 has been spin-doctored and over-hyped as a pinnacle achievement for the entire sport of boxing, in actuality, it only applies to the big boys. Fighters in lighter divisions have exceeded that magical number, and then some. 

Julio Cesar Chavez eclipsed Marciano's 49-0 record by either 38 or 41 victories, depending on one's criterion; Chavez was 87-0 when he was gifted with a draw against Pernell Whitaker in 1993, and 89-0-1 when he suffered his first lost against Frankie Randall the following year. Willie Pep was 62-0 before losing to Sammy Angott in 1943. And Yori Boy Campas was 56-0 when he lost to Felix Trinidad in 1994.
Granted, Marciano and Mayweather might still share the record as boxers who retired with the most victories without a loss, but should their status be elevated above those who opted not to call it quits after exceeding 49-0? Chavez, Pep and Campas continued to win world titles and fight at the highest levels after their first defeats. Chavez ended his career at 107-6-2, 86 KOs, Pep at 229-11-1, 65 KOs and Campas at 103-17-3, 79 KOs. Holmes, too, remained competitive enough to vie for a world title on four occasions after his first loss to Spinks, ending his career at 69-6, 44 KOs.

Even the aforementioned Lopez and John might have surpassed 49-0, depending one's definition of "undefeated" as opposed to "unblemished." Lopez finished his career undefeated at 51-0-1, and John was undefeated in 51 fights (48-0-3) before suffering his first loss. Technically speaking, Ricardo Lopez is the fighter who retired with the best undefeated record while Marciano and Mayweather share the best unblemished record of retired boxers.

The prestige of 49-0 gets even more diluted when zooming further back to a prehistoric age when, God forbid, if you missed the fight on the radio or black-and-white TV, you had to read about it on actual paper and ink the next morning. Before this modern era of multi-million-dollar signing bonuses and slick multi-media marketing, boxers typically fought for their next meal rather than their next Maserati. Fighters often had to accept fights on less than a week's notice, sometimes against naturally bigger men, while laboring at exhausting day jobs.

Jake LaMotta, for example, made his debut in March of 1941 and ended the year at 18-2, averaging two fights a month. Sam Langford, in his 22-year career, fought everyone at lightweight to heavyweight.

Imagine how many other fighters would have exceeded the 49-0 mark in the old days if exceptional talents the likes of Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, Henry Armstrong, Sandy Saddler, Barney Ross and countless more were scouted early, carefully coddled, selectively matched and afforded the luxury of eight-week training camps like their present-day contemporaries.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Jermall Charlo fights for IBF belt

Jermall Charlo will most likely bring a world title back to Houston after a seven-year drought. Charlo fights for the IBF junior middleweight belt against Cornelius Bundrage at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut on Saturday.

Read my prediction of the fight at:

Since Juan Diaz lost his three world lightweight world title belts to Nate Campbell in March of 2008, Houston has been devoid of a world titleholder. Houston's boxers sport a 0-5-1 record in title fights since Diaz's dethroning. This is how it went down:

Nov. 8, 2008: Houston's Raul Marquez was stopped in the sixth round by Arthur Abraham in Germany for the IBF middleweight title.
Feb. 9, 2009: Juan Diaz was stopped in the ninth round by Juan Manuel Marquez for the RING Magazine lightweight belt.
Feb. 28, 2009: Rocky Juarez fought to a draw against Chris John at the Toyota Center for the WBA featherweight belt.
Sept. 19, 2009: Juarez was outpointed over 12 rounds by John in a rematch in Las Vegas.
July 31, 2010: Diaz lost to Juan Manuel Marquez again in a rematch by 12-round decision.  
March 29, 2014: Cedric Agnew was stopped in the eighth round by Sergey Kovalev for the WBO light heavyweight belt.

Can Jermall Charlo break the dry spell?

Read The Houston Chronicle article on Charlo-Bundrage at: